A moth-eaten, moisture-drenched couch and loveseat. Wooden pallet boards with nails. A refrigerator door. A sinking boat.
“In the last year, the city of Seaside had some real issues with our residents actually leaving furniture, appliances and anything else in town,” Public Works Director Dale McDowell said. “Where we could be doing improvements in the parks, we’re taking care of somebody’s trash.”
McDowell has a rogue’s gallery of photos.
“That’s at the beach,” he said, showing a picture of overflowing garbage bags in a pile of sand. “Someone was done for the day visiting the beach and they just brought their garbage. They dumped it by one of the restrooms, their chairs included.”
A discarded couch and loveseat had signs marked “free” in Cartwright Park underneath the picnic shelter.
“We have to haul them to the dump,” McDowell said. “Unfortunately, all those charges get charged to the parks.”
Another photo showed a boat filled with fishing floats, the seat upholstery ripped, hull damaged, engine in disrepair.
“This one gentleman got the boat off of Craigslist, and the boat, naturally, was free,” McDowell said. “He tried to launch it at Quatat Park — it immediately sank. Our crews got called in after hours to pick this thing up. We still have it to this day because he doesn’t have any money to get it out of so-called impound and do anything with it.”
Right now, the boat is parked behind the public works building. “This has to get cut up and then put into a container and shipped out because it’s fiberglass,” McDowell said.
Around the corner, the recycling center on Avenue S is designed for cardboard and glass only, a message posted on recycling bins and fencing states. Nearly every night, garbage bags or refuse are left outside the gates after they close. “Someone dropped a toilet off‚” McDowell said. “I’m not quite sure who’s going to reuse that toilet.”
The City Council is considering closing the center because of the expense of disposing unwanted garbage, he said.
“I really don’t want to shut the recycle center down, because the majority of people are using it for its intended purpose,” McDowell said. “There’s a few that are impacting a lot of people by dumping this stuff off and leaving it. It’s affecting our parks budget. We only have so much money to go around. We’re basically garbage men.”
Homeowners should think twice before leaving items on the city’s streets, even if well-intentioned.
“That’s a great excuse for not having to take something up to the dump and pay for it yourself,” McDowell said. “I’m not sure if anyone understands the homeless don’t need five microwaves. They don’t need one microwave. They have no electrical power, right? We really need to educate our residents that that’s not how you’d get rid of things.”
McDowell said he will also propose a garbage day for residents to dispose of their unwanted waste. Public works also teams with the Seaside Community Cleanup, a group of volunteers working to keep the nearby Mill Ponds clean.
Residents can also bring items to recycle to the Astoria Transfer Station. Homeowners can contact Recology for special household pickups.
“You live here because you like this area,” McDowell said. “Your kids grow up here. You want them to stay. I want to make sure that everything is set up for them to have a lifetime here themselves.”