Feb 022010
Authors: Sara Michael

­­The people of Fort Collins stormed City Hall last night to voice their opinions on the proposed trash districting.

They were heard. Before even half of the crowd gathered in City Hall had a chance to speak, Mayor Doug Hutchinson folded.

“Districting is toast,” he said to mass applause.

Originally proposed in July, the city put out a request for proposals for trash districting. The company that was deemed to be “in best interests of the residents” would be the sole provider of waste pickup for the pilot area.

Districting, the city council argued, would reduce road wear, pollution and the number of trucks on the streets, as well as make the process easier for everyone involved. To opt out of the districting, the homeowner would pay $2.91 to the city and be able to choose their own trash and recycling service.

Waste Management and Gallegos Sanitation, Inc., both submitted bids. In the final bidding, it was revealed that there was only a $3 difference between the lowest bid and Waste Management’s bid.

One cry was to bring business back to Fort Collins. “Shop local. Support local,” was a chant that was raised. Though Waste Management spoke that their “heart is local,” the citizens of Fort Collins maintained that when the base of a company is located in Houston, Texas and they are writing checks to out of state, something’s not right.

At 6 p.m., the sidewalks around 300 LaPorte Avenue were dappled with people on their way to City Hall.

Gray-haired men and women, purposeful suits and stroller-wielding families were all present. Over 400 citizens crowded outside the doors, all braced to hear that they wouldn’t be allowed inside, leaving many outraged at the small size of the venue.

Citizens came welding Democratic and Republican voices into one reverberating message.

“Fort Collins is known as the ‘choice’ city,” one Fort Collins resident said, echoed by many. “Give us that choice.”

Common citizens, business owners, representatives from Gallegos Sanitation and even Waste Management came to discuss the trash districting, many outspoken, some reasonable, all heard.

“What’s next?” many citizens asked. “You’re going to tell me what grocery stores to use? I have to go to Lowes, not Home Depot, because it’s closer?”

The goals of the evening were to hear out everyone who had an opinion to voice. For over three hours, a steady stream of people wove through City Hall, taking their three minutes, some over, to vent their feelings, ask questions, and, in general, give City Council a piece of their minds.

Towards the end of the evening, council member Kelly Ohlson said the thing they all wanted to hear: “I hear you.”

Fort Collins residents can be assured, said Ohlson, that the districting proposal is going to “die a quick, swift permanent death.”

Staff writer Sara Michael can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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