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Red River missed pick ups appear to be increasing

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- A neighborhood association president and Fort Wayne city councilman say residents all over the city are having problems -- again -- with Red River's trash collection service.

"It's just been an absolute nightmare," Brandon Steffen said.

He's president of the West Central neighborhood association, and says for the past three months he's been trying to get the city administration to do something about Red River Waste Solutions' missed garbage pick ups.

"We have some streets that haven't been picked up for three weeks, and this has just been an ongoing problem that we can't seem to get solved," he said.

He says the problem is not confined to a specific route, that a row of 10 homes will get their trash removed, yet others on the same street will not.

A neighborhood association president says Red River's attitude about continued missed trash pick ups is "just one excuse after another."

Plus, he says when the trash piles up for weeks on end, it creates more than just a smell.

"We have animals getting into the trash. Our neighborhood is so close to the river, we have a lot of racoons and wildlife that's been getting into it and strewing it throughout the neighborhood.," Steffen said.

He says residents tell him when they call 311 to complain, they don't feel their calls are taken seriously.

We reached out to the mayor's office, and were told that the Solid Waste department actually "discontinued maintaining the performance dashboard on the city's website about a year ago. It was determined that the service levels improved to a point that they didn't need to post misses online any longer."

"All that needs to be done is for the administration and Solid Waste to take this problem seriously and get the job done," Republican city councilman Russ Jehl said.

He sits on an advisory board comprised of rate payers that's advising the Solid Waste department to have a contingency plan in place to make sure trash is picked up every week.

"It's important for the administration to be vigilant, fine them appropriately, and then use those funds as necessary to get the garbage picked up, even if they have to hire a third service to supplement Red River's poor service," he said.

It's something the city did two years ago when Red River routinely missed pick ups, and Jehl says should be done again.

"In 2019, things were poor enough that the city of Fort Wayne realized that Red River needed help, and actually used city employees on an overtime basis to help pick up the garbage. That did work.," Jehl said.

The advisory board's next meeting is June 2, but Jehl says the administration and Solid Waste don't need to wait for the task force's input to hold Red River accountable for misses.

If you're having problems with Red River's trash service, you can contact your city council member.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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