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Is Illegal Dumping Adversely Affecting the Health of Some Kansas City Schoolchildren?

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

Kansas City officials want to improve the cleanliness and safety of neighborhoods around schools in six urban core zip codes and endorsed a proposal today to study the costs of implementing automatic bulky item pickup in those areas.

“We are looking at the idea of creating unscheduled bulky appointments in the six zip codes where we have low life expectancy,” Michael Shaw, Kansas City solid waste division director, said during the Council’s Neighborhood, Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Currently, bulky item pickup requires an appointment. But, under the proposal, the city would offer automatic pickups within a 12-block radius of all K-12 schools in the 64126, 64127, 64128, 64129, 64130 and 64132 zip codes. Shaw said the work would impact 24 schools and an area that includes 18,800 households.

Studies show illegal dumping and trash are connected to violent crime. And, City Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, who sponsored the resolution, said the neighborhoods in the proposal already have a high prevalence of illegal dumping and violence. But, she also said, residents don’t use all of their available bulky item pickup appointments.

She said the study will show the costs of implementing a new bulky item strategy and how to “redeploy those resources in a different way, resources that are already going unused.”

Marvia Jones of the Kansas City Health Department told the committee that addressing illegal dumping should also reduce crime by "cleaning an area of trash and staying on top of the trash removal."

Shaw said his department will analyze the potential costs, funding sources and feasibility of revamping the program in the targeted area.

“We will accept that challenge, and we will do a deep dive into the data and report back,” he said.

The feasibility report is expected to be completed within 90 days. The full Council will consider the proposal Thursday.

Lynn Horsley is a freelance writer in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter @LynnHorsley.

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Lynn Horsley