Proposal to stop trash collection at Fresno County parks

FRESNO, Calif.

Garbage bags are a common sight at the parks, but too often, they're not collecting garbage -- they're blowing around, like we saw at Kearney Park.

At times, the problem has gotten so out of hand, pictures show the Laton-Kingston park totally trashed only a week after a massive cleanup. But the county's public works department wants to stop cleaning up the trash and some supervisors agree.

"We need to start going down the path that government is not your mother and we can't clean up after everybody that's out there," said supervisor Judy Case.

Garbage cans would disappear at parks under the "Pack it In, Pack it Out" program -- replaced by simple signs announcing that no trash service will be provided. The idea led to a heated exchange between supervisor Case and supervisor Henry Perea, who used the Laton park as an example.

"We're going to have, this is what we're going have," Perea said, pointing to a picture of a trash heap in Laton.

"I hate to tell you, this is what we have with the current system," Case said.

"I understand that, but that's the point," said Perea. "Our crews will spend more money, more time out there picking up piles of this."

The board voted down the idea 3-to-2 Tuesday, but supervisor Debbie Poochigian indicated she'd change her vote if the program started after the peak summer parks season. So, the public works department could make a push again in a matter of months.

"Pack it In, Pack it Out" would save the department more than $30,000 at a time when it's already facing big budget cuts. It also asked to turn off the water at three downtown fountains, including one at Courthouse Park, to save about $10,000.

"It would be a shame," said John Lucas of Fresno as he passed by the fountain. "Just another thing we seem to be lacking the funding."

Supervisors will vote on turning off the water at their meeting next month.

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