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Square businesses asked to tidy up
The upkeep and placement of some dumpsters in the alleyways behind the Square have created "a growing concern from a public access and safety perspective," according to Public Works Director Al Gerber. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Overrun trash and spilled oil from downtown businesses has caused concern among citizens and prompted action by city officials.

During the Monroe Common Council meeting on June 21, local business owner Dave Gombosi stepped forward to request that the city look into the placement and upkeep of garbage containers along the Square alleyways. Gombosi said dumpsters for trash are not kept within a close distance to the buildings and are often overflowing or never used. He added that spills from 55-gallon oil drums from local restaurants regularly cause safety issues and muck up the area.

Gombosi, who owns five buildings along the Square and also is the CEO of the local RadioShack, cited the overflowing trash and regular oil spills as an ongoing problem. On Thursday morning, he said he called the police because of a large oil spill and refuse strewn along the alley behind the eastern buildings of the Square.

"A lot of people don't realize how bad it is," Gombosi said. "We want to make sure it's clean, organized and represents Monroe in the best possible way."

Public Works Director Al Gerber has noticed the problem and sent out a notification in late March expressing the need for cooperation with "an issue that is creating a growing concern from a public access and safety perspective."

Despite sending the letter to each property owner and their tenants, Gerber said only one person called to ask questions and there has not been any noticeable changes. Gerber said two main areas are the cause of most of the trouble: alleys behind the eastern and western buildings of the Square.

Alderman Tom Miller, who works as a part of Main Street Monroe, said the organization is "in the process right now to clean up the area." Gombosi said he was hopeful there could be rules put in place to make the area safer and cleaner, especially for the people living in the area. He said a better option for downtown businesses would be to share the containers. As for grease spills, he said there needs to be more care after he estimated four spills in the last six months.

Each large garbage dumpster a business keeps behind its building is maintained by a private disposal company. Business owners must be issued a permit by the city to keep a dumpster. Gerber pointed out in his letter to Square property owners that trash containers should be located on private property where possible. If held on adjoining property, both owners would have to approve. They must also be placed as close to the building walls as possible.

"There's nothing in the code that limits how many dumpsters they can have," Gerber said. "The only thing written in code is that they're not allowed to be overflowing."

As for the grease bins, Gerber said they are maintained privately and are a private maintenance issue. If a complaint comes to the city indicating a lack of proper care, the matter would be evaluated. Gerber said he has taken the matter to the city aldermen, who will decide whether to change city code to address the issue.