PDT Staff Writer
The Portsmouth City Health Department has responded to a request to clean up overgrown brush, trash, and more from a property on Armstrong Place in Portsmouth.
Carol Hieneman was tired of watching a vacant and overgrown lot in her neighborhood be used for prostitution and drug deals, so she cleared it off, piling the huge stacks of brush on a property near her home. That prompted the city to send out a crew consisting of probationers from Portsmouth Municipal Court to begin the tedious process of filling truckload after truckload with debris that Hieneman had cleared away.
“They’re (probationers) working off their community service, helping us clean up this brush pile,” Leslie Young of the City Health Department said. “It’s a complaint-driven deal today. Lots of times we just patrol around and look for things to pick up, but today is complaint-driven. So we are just trying to resolve this issue.”
Young said she projects the job will take several days of workers working all day to complete the cleanup. Derrick Carpenter, Dylan LeMaster, and Janet West were on the job, hoping to get a lot done before the heat of mid-day, and Young said she was expected a couple of more workers by afternoon.
“If we could get more crews on it it would probably happen a little faster,” Young said. “Sometimes we even have volunteers from the community to help us do these things. But today they are all from the Probation Department.”
Young said each time the truck is filled, it is taken to the transfer station for disposal of the debris.
“We keep weight on it, obviously, to keep track of what we’re dumping,” Young said. “And the city picks up the bill for that. So this is an issue that a lot of money is going into, one way or another. We won’t stop until the job is done. We’ll just keep coming back until it’s finished.”
Young said it is not advisable for people to take it upon themselves to clear vacant property and to pile the debris from that cleanup on someone else’s property.
“My recommendation for people who want to take matters into their own hands and help the community clean up something, that they contact either the Health Department or the Service Department, and we can direct them as to where they can dump the stuff, as opposed to on someone else’s property,” Young said.
“They can call for special pickup from the Service Department, and it can be added to their water bill if they want to do it that way; they can call us and try to get us to come and help out, just to bring it to our attention. It depends on what it is they have to clean up, as to where it has to go. But we always have answers. If we don’t have the answers, we know someone who does. So we can find those answers. So we recommend that people don’t take it into their own hands, especially to this extent. Instead maybe let us help out or point them in the right direction.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.