Cape Coral residents cause garbage pileup at Cultural Park Theater

As Cape Coral was moving toward progress with trash woes among residents, a city center experienced its own.

When Executive Director Michael Moran arrived at Cultural Park Theater for work Monday, he was met with a sight that is not common at the community center — a large pile of garbage that included mattresses, couches and a lot of yard waste.

Moran was not happy.

“It was mind blowing to say the least,” Moran explained.

Evidently, Cape Coral residents who have been fed up with the ongoing issue with Waste Pro decided to dump unclaimed trash at their homes for the city to take care of at the theater.

But Waste Pro is only scheduled to collect trash from that drop-off site Tuesday through Friday, currently.

“They had to pick up during the week last week and then not over the weekend,” Moran said. “They did it at another location, but people didn’t understand, and so they decided, ‘Well, we’ll just leave it here,’ and they did.”

The city wants to encourage residents not to continue what some have already done because it could lead to real individual consequences.

Mayor John Gunter told us he hears all the complaints.

“The problem still exists,” Gunter said. “I think that they have been keeping up with the regular trash and the recyclables, but horticulture in bulk trash, there’s still a significant problem throughout the city.”

The city has tried to help get Waste Pro back on track by hosting drop-off sites. Meanwhile, the city has also moved to begin fining Waste Pro when it does not pick up garbage at a resident’s home.

“Those fine started at $250,” Gunter said. Every 30 days, they go to $500, or they go up to $250, so April 26, they would go to $500; May 26, they would go to $750 with a maximum of $1,500.”

12 Cape Coral city workers will begin making trash pickups as well, starting with yard waste,

“It’s very frustrating,” Gunter said. “Anytime that you pay somebody to do a job and they don’t do it and then you have to spend more money to make sure that the same job is completed, that’s frustrating.”

If pickups don’t improve, the mayor says the city might have to look at other options.

“That could be a multitude of things whether we split the contracts and we have more than one provider in the city,” Gunter said. “That could be that we go on a different direction altogether with another provider. That could be something as much as looking in house to see if it’s cost-effective for the city to take that responsibility over.”

“Doing so is illegal,” the city shared in an email. “Both the police department and code are aware of the illegal dumping that occurred while the site was closed.”

Craig Lantz showed up Monday to get the trash off the front of his lawn only to realize WastePro wasn’t around. Lantz told us WastePro needs to get its act together for the sake of everyone in Cape Coral.

“It sits and sits out there, and like we were saying, it’s not good for the yard and not to mention the eyesores,” Lantz said.

Cape Coral crews put up barricades outside the theater to stop people from leaving their trash.

One of the subcontractors Waste Pro hired to help them catch up on trash collected responded during the late afternoon to take it away.

Moran told us that’s a good thing.

“We can’t afford to pay dumpster bills for the whole city,” Moran said.

Moran also told us he had to chase away at least 20 people Monday who had hoped to leave their trash with the pile that had accumulated at Cultural Park theater over the weekend.

The mayor asks residents to call 311 in the city if Waste Pro doesn’t collect trash as scheduled. He wants a record of every missed pickup, so he can properly hold the service accountable.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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