Overwhelming feedback from residents convinced the City Council to keep twice-a-week trash service and move forward with the city’s first dog park.
More than 2,900 residents responded to an online survey about trash service with 61 percent saying they don’t want to switch to once a week automated garbage pickup with 95 gallon carts.
Republic Services, Mansfield’s trash contractor, proposed the change to offset rising labor costs.
The council voted unanimously at its Aug. 13 meeting to keep twice-a-week trash service.
“It’s very clear that citizens want us to continue twice-a-week service,” Mayor David Cook said. “I do appreciate the time people have spent expressing their views and their opinions. This was not an initiative by the city council or the staff. [Republic Services] is doing a great job in the city of Mansfield.”
Either way, the cost for trash service was going to increase as the city starts a new contract with Republic Services in October.
Mansfield residents currently pay $11.49 per month for twice-a-week trash pickup using traditional trash bags and manual labor to load it in the trash trucks.
The details of the new contract are still being worked out but earlier this year, Vince Hrabal, municipal services manager with Republic, estimated the cost would go up by $1.61 per month to keep the same level of service.
The cost would have been about 49 cents cheaper if the city had gone with option 2 for once-a-week trash service with the 95 gallon carts.
But respondents to the city’s online survey didn’t mind the cost increase to keep the same level of service.
Scott Wallace, a 17-year resident, said the trash bins are a safety concern.
Currently, Mansfield residents use 95-gallon recycle bins but they can be put out when it’s convenient, Wallace said. Trash bins would have to be put out every week because of the smell. That means they would often stay at the curb until the evening.
“It’s a clear signal that that house may be vacant,” Wallace said.
He showed examples of the bins being stored in front of driveways, which he said decreases the beauty of the neighborhood.
Dog park moves ahead
For years, Mansfield’s plans for a dog park have been pushed back by other priorities. Last month, that appeared to be happening again as council members questioned whether this was the best use of the money.
That all changed when dog owners flooded the council with emails in support of building the dog park at 604 W. Broad St.
The council voted 6-1 to move forward with the dog park and have staff draft construction documents for multiple paddocks for small and large dogs. Councilwoman Julie Short cast the lone no vote.
Initially, the council balked at the price tag, $800,000, but Matt Young, director of parks, said the cost includes elements like a parking lot and utilities that will be shared with the restored Man house at the front of the site.
The city plans to turn the post Civil War era Man house into a museum while building a dog park in the back half of the property. Ultimately, that park will connect to the fourth and final phase of the Walnut Creek Linear Park.
There were also concerns about the city’s liability if a dog attacks another dog or a person.
Councilman Terry Moore suggested the city require proof of updated vaccination records before dogs can access the dog park. That could be done with card keys that have to be swiped at the gate to the dog park. It could be the same as the Mansfield Activities Center or library card. Mansfield already requires annual licenses for dogs in the city — this would be a way to enforce that in exchange for accessing the dog park, Moore said.
“To gain access to this park, your dog needs to be registered and current on its shots,” Moore said. “I think we can mitigate some of the liability concerns with that.”
There could also be a fee for non-residents. The revenue from the registration could help pay for maintenance.
“It’s not something that everyone in town is going to use,” Moore said. “If it could pay its own way that would be phenomenal. Not make money, just pay its own way.”