At the beginning of September, the city of Denton began a series of beautification projects, creating parking spaces and reducing outdoor odors, starting with swapping out the shared-dumpsters used by businesses and giving each store their own set of smaller trash containers.
The south side of The Square, home to popular establishments such as LSA Burger and Beth Marie’s, was the first target and on September 23, the city swapped the bins on the east side as well.
“Basically it’s a shared service downtown,” the Solid Waste department’s Business Account Coordinator Brandi Neal said. “There were about four or five dumpsters on those streets. They are taking up parking, causing a lot of odor and illegal dumping.”
When the managers heard about the transition, they did not know how to take it.
“We were petrified,” LSA General Manager Kristin Allen said. “We were completely nervous on how this would go.”
But despite her initial worries, Allen said the process has been going well.
“The people that pick up the bins, when they see that we need more, or that our volumes have decreased, they either take away or put more out there,” Allen said. “They are really great.”
In addition to the service, Allen said you can tell the program is already making a difference.
“You can already tell that for us there is less trash on the street,” Allen said. “It’s so far so good”
Allen said the city checked on them constantly in the beginning, but now that they are moving forward, they have dialed back a little.
“They were here the first week every hour just checking on us,” Allen said. “Now, I don’t see them every hour but every time I go outside I don’t have overflowing trash. So they’re coming but I don’t know what it’s come down to.”
“Right now they are servicing them five times a day and we will probably be able to cut back as we learn more of their business profile and how many times we need to come by,” Neal said.
This service does come with a price, but Neal said it is structured based on how much trash each store produces. There is a five-tiered system and each store is placed in a tier based on their waste production.
“It’s a five-level tier system and the first tier starts at $24.70 and it goes all the way up to $460 a month,” Neal said.
But even with the tiered system, if a business has a full bin, they will be serviced.
“There is no need for everyone [to be serviced] because some people only generate maybe a bag a day, but when [the workers] are outside they may peak and see if there is a need and if there is they will grab them,” Neal said.
During the initial start-up, Brian Boerner, the director of solid waste, said that the prices might actually allow most businesses to see a reduction in pick-up costs.
“Currently we have 141 businesses on our shared service,” Boerner said. “The way we’ve assigned the tiers we anticipate 100 of those will actually be paying less than what they’re paying now.”
Allen said she imagines the cost for this service has affected her store, but she isn’t certain.
“I would imagine the cost has increased, but I don’t get that bill because it goes to our office,” Allen said.
But even with the associated costs, Allen believes her store can still benefit directly.
“I think what will improve with me is that I’ll spend less in labor dollars,” Allen said. “So I look at it as I may benefit from this because people don’t have to dilly-dally walking down to Walnut Street [to throw away trash].”
This transition will continue along each road until all bins along The Square and down Fry Street have been swapped.
“We’re doing it every two weeks,” Neal said. “We run the tracking period for two weeks and after that we meet and discuss with the businesses the next steps moving forward.”
Neal said the city hopes to complete the process on Fry Street by November 18.
Featured Image: Rather than sharing large dumpsters or trash bins, businesses in Denton are being provided with smaller bins that are regularly picked up by the city. Image by Grace Davis