Cleaning up this town

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By Optic Editorial Board

Joe Aragon Jr. and his son Joe Aragon III are justified in their frustration with the city’s solid waste transfer station. It’s unnecessarily messy, with trash blowing all over the place on a regular basis. So when they complain to city officials that they regularly have to pick up the city’s trash on their neighboring property, it’s believable. And when they say it’s not just a transfer station, that it’s a dump and a junkyard to boot, no one can really argue with them.

Their points were widely acknowledged by city officials last week at the Las Vegas City Council meeting, still it wasn’t enough to deter the council from voting to annex the transfer station into the city limits. In fact, when the Aragons voiced their opposition to the annexation, their argument lacked any good reason not to bring the property into the city limits. Their argument was that the transfer station was being poorly managed.

They’re right about that. Anyone who has been up there can see problems with loose trash. And the recycling area is, mostly, a mess in its own right. City officials, from City Manager Timothy Dodge to the councilors to Mayor Alfonso Ortiz, readily admit it's not well-kept — and they’ve vowed to change that in the days and weeks ahead. In fact, Dodge even put a timeline on the task — he said it should take three to four months to complete all the improvements planned for the transfer station.

And as further encouragement, in his city manager’s report before the council, Dodge declared that “the trash and litter problem (in the city) isn’t acceptable ... and I guarantee we are going to change that. We’re going to clean this community up.”

Mighty big words, Mr. Dodge, and we’re hoping you mean it. And we hope you mean more than just stepping up clean-up efforts, because those who make the messes don’t need to be let off the hook so easily. How about fining litterbugs and others who, through their negligence, let their trash get away from them? If the city manager is serious about cleaning up this town, then he should take steps to make those responsible pay.

All the trash and litter around town flies in the face of our pride of place. And to those who visit Las Vegas, it suggests something worse, that we just don’t care. Perhaps they don’t realize that it’s only a relative few who don’t care. And since trash and litter effects us all, it’s perfectly justified to enforce the law and impose the kinds of fines that will make them care.

We’ve made progress last year by cleaning up dumpsites, so let’s keep up the good work. And the next step, but not the last step, should be the transfer station. More than the Aragons will appreciate that.