02/09/04 — Trash lines Slocumb Street

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Trash lines Slocumb Street

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 9, 2004 2:02 PM

Goldsboro's elected officials say they are getting fed up with the dismal appearance of the city and want something done about littered streets.

High on their list of priorities is Slocumb Street.

"It's deplorable out there," said Mayor Al King, "and it's the city's responsibility to clean it up."

King, along with several other council members such as Charles Williams and Bob Waller, have brought up the problem of Slocumb Street at more than one council workshop.

"We need to clean it up, and put forth the effort now," Waller said.

Williams has repeatedly asked that something be done about junked cars at a small shop on Slocumb Street, but so far the situation remains unchanged.

There is no name on the outside of the shop. The cars are in front of a garage, with puddles of oil and grease visible between the lines of vehicles.

Old vehicles hug the side of the road, several with no license tags and the hoods popped half-open.

A line of scattered debris trails from the front of the business along the side of the small shop, including tires, a camper top, a freezer, pieces of carpet and assorted lumber.

Farther down the road is a dump site, complete with windows, a rusted air conditioner, part of an old roof and numerous liquor bottles.

Litter lines the fence beside an abandoned building across the street from the dump site. Some of the trash is flattened against the fence, but scattered nearby are empty bottles of bleach.

Coincidentally, the city sent work crews from the Neuse Correctional Facility out to pick up trash on Slocumb Street the day after the newspaper took pictures. But rain forced the inmates to stop the work after a few hours, leaving unsecured bags of trash lined up on the side of the road.

Wind from Friday's storm blew some of the trash out of the bags, scattering much of the litter back on the sides of the road.

Slocumb Street is a back entrance for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and the council says it's dedicated to keeping the base in Goldsboro.

"Our number one priority is to keep the base," said King. "Anything that adversely affects the base, we can ill-afford to have happen."

Then why is it so difficult to get the area cleaned up?

Assistant Planning Director Jimmy Rowe told the council during a January workshop that garages with junked cars could be cited for being unsightly under the public nuisance ordinance. "If they are leaving them out in the parking area with no tags and are taking parts off, we can get them for that," Rowe said.

So why isn't the city making a move to clean up that area?

First it's not entirely clear which city department is responsible for enforcing the nuisance ordinance because both General Services and the Inspection Department are listed. Joe Sawyer, director of General Services, says that it's the responsibility of the Inspection Department.

Ed Cianfarra, chief inspector, says that he wasn't aware his department was responsible for enforcing that ordinance, but said he had no problem enforcing it.

"I haven't received a complaint or been directed to do anything about the cars on Slocumb Street," he said. "There has been nothing that's come to my department, but if they're violating the ordinance, I'll be glad to enforce it."

City Manager Richard Slozak says that garages have an exemption to the junked-car ordinance, as long as the cars are kept out of the right-of-way.

After checking on the situation this morning, Slozak said that he did find that five or six of the cars were in the right-of-way and needed to be moved.

"One other thing I'm checking is that most of the vehicles are not licensed," he said. "If they aren't licensed, they probably don't fall in the 'for repair' category, and that area isn't zoned for a salvage yard."

Slozak said he was waiting for more information from City Attorney Harrell Everett.

King said that council members had made it known to the city manager that they were concerned about Slocumb Street.

"We have to keep Seymour Johnson Air Force Base," King said. "If the city needs more resources to get the job done, then we need to get more resources."

King said that "something's gone terribly wrong" with the way policies and procedures are being, or not being, enforced.

"There are any number of areas in the city that you can drive and look and see trash problems," King said. "Some changes have been made, but it's not enough."

Waller said that he believed that there were people on the board that were now interested in making sure it got cleaned up.

"We need to get it cleaned up, whatever it takes," he said.