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City, Flour Bluff residents make push to curb dumping

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Posted at 6:46 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 21:42:30-04

Illegal dumping is a problem the Coastal Bend region as a whole deals with regularly.

A search on pulls up stories about dumping problems in Aransas Pass, Jim Wells county, Bee county and Flour Bluff.

One of the city of Corpus Christi's renewed efforts to fight illegal dumping was the return of the "Litter Critter," a promise Mayor Paulette Guajardo said she made to the community when she ran for the city's top job last year.

"The Litter Critter was my promise in action," she said. "It was created many years ago. It pre-dates me."

She said she directly coordinated the program's return with city manager Peter Zanoni and the city's solid-waste department after seeing residents become increasingly frustrated with dumping across all of the city's five districts.

"Really, it's all over the city," she said. "And you're going to find that this happens in places where there isn't a lot of density with homes, because it's easier to dump where no one's watching. No one's living there."

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The Litter Critter events take place in different areas of the city each month. It started in June, and so far it has made appearances on Padre Island, Flour Bluff, Calallen and Tuloso-Midway. Its next stop will be at West Oso High School on Saturday.

Through its partnership with recycling services company Republic Services, Guajardo said the Litter Critter lines up four or five large rolling dumpsters at that month's site in order for residents to have a place to dispose of heavy items cluttering their property. So far, she said the Litter Critter has disposed of 55 tons of garbage.

"It's a great program, and it's been very appreciated by residents," she said.

The Litter Critter accepts bulky items such as appliances, tires, metals, household trash and brush, Guajardo said.

But please, no dead animals.

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Finding trash strewn around Flour Bluff was part of the impetus for the Flour Bluff Citizens' Council, said resident Joe Kramer.

"Flour Bluff has always been seen as kind of a black sheep of the city," he said. "And for the longest time back in the '50s and '70s, all that was out here in Flour Bluff was was fishing villages."

That scarce population, he said, is why the citizens' council exists -- it gave residents a united front when presenting problems to city of Corpus Christi officials.

"And it takes people like us to do that, because the city can't do it all on their own," he said. "I mean, they can try, but it's impossible."

Kramer, who has lived in The Bluff since 1981, said that area has always been disrespected by people who don't live there. But his group also has caught residents trashing it as well.

"We just had it happen the other day on one of our popular areas where they dump," he said. "Somebody was dumping a bunch of construction materials from a remodel. They called me, I got out there and I missed them -- the people dumping it -- but I went through all their trash, found an address in the trash and went to that house and confirmed all the materials -- you could tell came from that house. The siding and all the trash."

He said he then called code enforcement, who went to the property, investigated the incident, and fined and ticketed the property owners per pound of trash.

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He also some of the trash is left by homeless who have moved into the area.

"It's just disrespectful," he said. "It's disheartening. It angers you and again. You've got two choices in life: You can either be part of the problem, or part of the solution; and for most people now, especially with the Flour Bluff Citizens Council, we have a united voice."

A united voice, and a vigilant community. Whereas in the past it might have been easy for people to dump unwanted trash in Flour Bluff, now, Kramer said, its residents are on alert.

Thehy're also trying to come up with proactive solutions to the problem. Brainstorming out loud, Kramer suggested the city set up dumpsters at the Laguna Madre Wastewater Treatment plant on Jester Street, where Southside, Flour Bluff and Padre Island residents could dump the same kinds of dry materials collected during bulk and brush pick-ups.

He also said his group is working with the city to install bollards in areas of Flour Bluff where it's easy to park and dump. He also said thay're working with local landowners to try and keep grass trimmed so it's harder for people to sneak into the tall grass and leave trash.

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Kramer also said he organizes clean-ups in the area and gets local businesses to donate supplies such as water, trash bags, gloves and other necessities.

"Like I said, the city can't they city can't do everything," he said. "I mean, that's where us the citizens -- we've stepped up and we want to clean up our neighborhood."