Today’s batch of burning questions, my smart answers, and the real deal:

Question: If Asheville is considering banning certain plastic bags, because they are harmful to the environment, why are some places, like the town of Black Mountain, requiring their use in garbage collection? The city’s collection service recently refused to empty my bag, leaving a note telling me to bag the contents. I’ve never used all the bags before, so this refusal signaled a recent policy change. If plastic bags are bad for the environment, then this policy makes no sense. Am I missing something?

My answer: Well clearly you are missing plastic bags. But I get your point.

True answer: Tausha Millwood, senior administrative assistant for public works and sanitation supervisor at Black Mountain, took charge of this one. She confirmed that the city requires all garbage to be bagged in kitchen-style bags for collection.

“That’s been the policy since we started our internal sanitation collection in October 2020,” Millwood said. “We don’t require people to use a certain style of cans. We don’t have city-issued cans and everyone is responsible for their own containers.”

In part, the bag requirement boils down to the actual physical labor involved in garbage collection.

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“Most residents don’t have canisters with the toter bars, so if the canister is full of loose trash, that means the slinger (there’s usually only one slinger on each truck) has to lift manually the canister to empty it,” Millwood said. , explaining that the city’s trucks don’t have automated arms to lift and empty all the trash cans.

Instead, the trucks have two “toter lifters” in the back that can pick up cans for dumping. But if the trash can is loose, sanitation workers may still have to remove it.

“After several hundred of these a day, it starts to wear out,” Millwood said. “Also, when emptying loose waste from cans, it increases the chances of loose waste falling/blowing out of the can onto the floor.”

Loose trash in a box that is knocked over will scatter everywhere. But if the garbage is bagged, it stays at least in one place, confined. Loose waste can also pose a safety risk to workers and others.

Millwood noted that the city of Asheville has the same policy regarding the preparation of garbage and the use of bags. Indeed, the city’s online sanitation page states: “Only bagged household waste may be placed in the roller containers”.

The City of Asheville is considering banning single-use plastic bags like the ones pictured here.  The Town of Black Mountain requires that trash for pick up be placed in larger kitchen type plastic bags.

As we noted in a September 13 news report, an Asheville City Council committee, amid calls to ban all single-use plastic bags in the city, “voted for a softer approach — a approach that would potentially eliminate the use of plastic bags for curbside waste collection and begin exploring an outright ban on plastic bags at retail outlets.”

The governance committee voted 3-0 to recommend “a phased approach to council to update the existing leaf collection ordinance and begin developing a new ordinance to target single-use plastic bags,” we said. -reported to us.

As for the trash bags required, I can tell you that the town of Fletcher in northern Henderson County also requires trash to be in bags, and they get a little testy when you don’t, which is understandable.

While the city of Asheville in 2020 approved a plan for the so-called

Question: When will plans for the “Pit of Despair” on Haywood Street begin to be implemented? The plan called for a “park” and more in 2022. What’s going on with this project?

My answer: Look, the city’s only had this site for 20 years. Are you expecting a miracle? Meanwhile I can tell you they ignored my suggestion of a good old fashioned mountain swimming hole and fishing pond there.

True answer: The notorious pit sits across from Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville and St. Lawrence’s Basilica, a prime downtown location for, well, just about anything. At the turn of the century, the city flirted with the idea of ​​a hotel/convention center on the site, but that was abandoned.

In October 2020, the Asheville City Council approved a park plan “intended to transform struggling downtown land, though it’s unclear how the $13.2 million project would be constructed” , as we pointed out then. The 7-0 vote looked promising at the time, but still nothing has happened.

Former City Councilwoman Julie Mayfield, now a state senator, offered a pretty good summary after the 2020 vote.

“It’s no secret how difficult this site has been for our city throughout its history,” Mayfield said. “And people have literally won and lost elections because of it. So to be in this place is really good.”

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But she added that the site would be “very special when we figure out how to fund it and build it”.

That always seems to be the problem.

“The City of Asheville is developing new processes to assess city-owned land,” City of Asheville spokeswoman Kim Miller said via email this week. “Creating these revised processes should be a top priority for the next year.”

So what’s the overall result?

“We don’t have any specific updates on the schedule or any funding associated with 68 Haywood St. at this time,” Miller said.

I think that in 20 years, the city may have destroyed everything.

This is the opinion of John Boyle. To submit a question, contact him at 828-232-5847 or [email protected]