Texomans reached out to Newschannel 6 about concerns of trash and debris on city streets and parks in Wichita Falls. Newschannel 6 Anchor Brittany Glas reached out to city officials to find out where the trash came from and whose responsibility it is to clean it up.
Nearly two weeks have passed since a wave of strong winds moved through Wichita Falls blowing unsightly trash and debris along city streets. Many residents told Newschannel 6 they wish the city would "do its job." After thorough research, Newschannel 6 learned the job of picking up the trash is not placed solely on Wichita Falls' departments.
In fact, Assistant City Manager Kevin Hugman told Newschannel 6 the city does not have specific crews who are assigned to pick up trash and debris across Wichita Falls. Hugman said, "That's an extra job that they have to do in addition to everything else they do."
Kevin Hugman said cleaning up city streets is a shared responsibility between the street department, the parks department, and property owners.
"We don't have the resources to do all of that on our own. And so, when something like that happens where, you know, we had a big rain and it washed all that trash down... that's extra time that we have to spend then picking that up," said Hugman.
The most common area of concern for most Wichita Falls residents is Maplewood Avenue, from Southwest Parkway to Kemp Boulevard, and the areas in and around Sikes Lake. Residents and visitors to town we spoke to said they want to know why the city isn't taking care of the mess.
Newschannel 6 learned the storm debris may not be the only problem when it comes to trash. Litter has reportedly become an issue, as well.
Brent Henry, who attends Colonial Church on Maplewood said, "It just seems like it's the trash bin over here. I don't know if it's because of the little pond that runs through here or what, or if it's just that it's such a big area that people just like to throw their trash out because you can't see across the street, so maybe they feel like they can throw it out without being seen."
Henry continued regarding litter, "It sure is. It is becoming a problem."
Regardless of the entities technically responsible for picking up storm debris and litter strewn across Wichita Falls, the assistant city manager said in order to fix the problem, members of the community must claim responsibility, as well.
"We all take pride in our community, we all want it to look clean... but it takes all of us to do our part," said Hugman.
Texomans we spoke with had numerous suggestions for solutions.
Jim Binion, a teacher at Vernon College's Wichita Falls campus, said, "If there were an 'adopt the roadway' [program], similar to what they do with 'adopt the highway,' that would make things a lot better."
The assistant city manager welcomes the idea.
"It's a great opportunity for a community group - if they would like to step forward and adopt an area and clean it once a quarter or something like that, we would be happy to have that help. We would provide the bags to them to do that and our Sanitation Department would come by and pick up those bags," said Hugman.
Angela Boyd, a Lakeside City resident, told Newschannel 6, "For the most part, Wichita's done a good job and they're very conscientious about keeping it. It looks good from every direction that you drive into it… So, maybe keeping it clean once you get inside [city limits] should be a priority too."
Wichita Falls city leaders encourage residents to communicate their concerns directly, so they know about any potential problems city-wide. City leaders want to connect with citizens. One way the city is trying to do that is through their new smart phone app that goes hand-in-hand with the city's "Report A Concern" section of their website.
Click the second video, posted above, to watch Assistant City Manager of Wichita Falls, Kevin Hugman, explain the benefits of the new "Access Wichita Falls" smart phone app.
For additional information about the app, click here.