South Route 59 'turning to trash," Naperville resident says
Naperville is "turning into trash," an angry resident wrote in a recent email to the mayor and city council.
South Route 59 is the culprit specifically identified by Saiqa Malik, who said she's fed up with garbage she sees collecting on vacant lots, near the road and in front of businesses.
"Every single day when I drive Route 59, literally there's trash," said Malik, who lives near Route 59 and 111th Street. "There's trash on the green patches, there's trash on the sides. It breaks my heart to see that."
Malik said she wants the city to place signs along the road alerting people to the fines they could face for littering, which police Chief Robert Marshall said run from $100 to $500.
Public Works Director Dick Dublinski said the trash that accumulates along Route 59 between 95th and 111th streets is a seasonal problem caused in part by development in the area, a large number of commercial properties, lawn maintenance crews and garbage blowing out of bins.
"It's not people driving down the street throwing stuff out," Dublinski said.
But Malik said she thinks the trash is a "behavioral" issue, one she's noticed for the past three years.
"It has gotten worse lately. I feel it's getting worse every day," she said. "I view it like an epidemic. I feel that if it is not controlled today, it will totally go out of hand."
Council member David Wentz suggested addressing the trash with an adopt-a-highway program for Route 59 between 95th and 111th.
"I thought a solution might be to look at it from a standpoint of community involvement," Wentz said.
Dublinski said the city has run an adopt-a-highway program since 1988 and 24 groups have participated by applying for a permit and cleaning up certain sections of road.
The only wrinkle with Route 59, a state highway, is the city would have to coordinate with the Illinois Department of Transportation to get permits for potential volunteers to pick up trash along the road. Bill Novack, director of transportation, engineering and development, said all the city would need to start the coordination process with the state is an interested volunteer group to come forward.
Malik said she's not sure if she could rally a group of others interested in cleaning up the road, and she thinks warning signs against littering would be the best solution. She said the signs would be "educational," not an eyesore, and they would deter drivers from throwing garbage out their windows
"People would not litter if they know that they're going to be charged $100, let alone $500 or $1,000," she said.
Because the state owns Route 59, the city does not have jurisdiction to post signs there, Novack said. City staff members said they would notify the code enforcement department of the problem to ensure property owners along south Route 59 are told to keep their properties free from trash.