Portland council approves new bulky waste program

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PORTLAND — The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a program that will allow residents to resume leaving bulky waste for curbside pickup.

But the program is unlike the city’s previous bulky waste pickup that was discontinued in 2008 because of budget cuts.

The council also approved a permit for an outdoor concert by the popular band Mumford & Sons on the Eastern Promenade in August.

Under the new curbside disposal program, residents will be allowed free disposal of items up to 30 pounds, as long as they first obtain tags from the city. Each household will be allowed up to 10 tags per year. Small items will be picked up along with regular household trash and brought to ecomaine.

Under the new program, residents will purchase a $40 tag for large items, including mattresses and furniture. Removal by a private company will then be scheduled by the city within two weeks, said Mike Bobinksy, director of Public Services.

Large items will be brought by a private contractor to the city’s Riverside Recycling Facility for disposal. Currently, only property owners are able to dispose of large items at the facility using the city’s e-card program.

The new program will run from mid-spring to mid-November. Bobinsky said he expects tags to be available starting the week of May 14 with pick-up beginning May 21.

The Solid Waste Task Force spent much of the past year discussing the issue and recommended the City Council adopt the new program. The task force recognized that tenants had no opportunity to dispose of items and it is difficult for people without trucks to remove large items, Bobinksy said.

Bobinsky said residents can request and purchase tags at recycle.portlandmaine.gov or in person at 55 Portland St. The website will include information about how to donate items to encourage residents to reuse items and reduce waste, he said.

Councilors said the new program will help stop illegal dumping, while avoiding public health issues such as bed bugs.

“Not having heavy item pickup is a great way of protecting against the spread of bed bugs,” Councilor David Marshall said.

Councilor John Anton echoed Marshall’s concern about bed bugs, and said the new program offers residents a way to avoid violating city ordinances.

“I think this is a nice balance,” he said. “It provides a needed service and gives people an opportunity to comply prior to enforcement.”

Councilor Kevin Donoghue said the new program begins to address the inequity of “subsidized dumping” at Riverside by property owners that is not allowed for tenants across the city.

Mayor Michael Brennan, who said during his campaign that he would support reinstating the old program, said he has come to realize there were issues with how things were done before. He called the new program a “very measured approach and a substantial step in the right direction.”

Brennan said he would like to see the $40 fee reduced in the future.

Mumford & Sons

Also on Monday, the City Council unanimously approved a proposal that will bring a large outdoor concert to the Eastern Promenade this summer.

State Theatre general manager Lauren Wayne said the “Gentlemen of the Road” concert with Mumford & Sons will bring more than 12,000 people to the Eastern Prom on Saturday, Aug. 4.

It will be one of only four stops in the United States this year for the British folk rock band. 

A portion of Eastern Prom Park will be partitioned off for ticket holders. A separate “beer garden” will be available for concert-goers 21 and older.

Areas closed off during the event will include the large expanse of grass from the playground to Moody Street; the parking lots on Cutter Street and the street itself; and half of the Eastern Prom Roadway from Turner Street to Moody Street. Boater traffic will be allowed down Cutter Street until 2 p.m. the day of the show.

A portion of event proceeds will be donated to Friends of the Eastern Prom, Wayne said.

Diane Davison, president of Friends of Eastern Prom, said the Eastern Promenade provides an ideal space for an outdoor concert. She called the concert a “significant and positive use” of a space that needs to be shared.

The order approved by the council includes an amendment requiring event organizers to sign a contract with the city that details conditions to address public safety.

Saturday, Aug. 4, is also the date of the annual TD Bank Beach to Beacon road race in Cape Elizabeth.

Gillian Graham can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or ggraham@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @grahamgillian.