If you've driven around Hartford, you've probably seen it: bulk trash left on the side of the road, a lot of it dumped illegally. It's a big problem for the city and they're looking to put a stop to it.
"It's a huge problem. It imposes a huge cost on our city, both in terms of manpower and time and resources to clean it up. But it also affects how the city looks, and we take that very, very seriously. We're going to be as aggressive as we can, so one message I hope everyone gets is when we get those complaints, we're going to follow up on them. And if we can catch people in the act or track them down, we're going to do everything we can to bring them to justice. Nobody should think they can dump illegal trash on the city without paying the price," said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
From recliners to TVs to sheetrock to just garbage, people illegally pile their trash on the sidewalks and then take off, knowing that someone will eventually come along to clean it up.
"It's businessmen, it's doctors, it's lawyers who own properties who are hiring people to clean their apartments out. Instead of them going to get permits in whatever town they live in, it seems like they take it to Hartford and Hartford will clean it up," said Hartford DPW Superintendent Vernon Matthews.
Matthews says the majority of people dumping illegally in the city don't live in the city. He says in his 24 years with the department, this is the worst he's ever seen of illegal dumping. He says it used to be that crews would go out maybe twice a week, but it's every day now.
"Now it's ramped up where you really can't keep up. It's constant, and it's not in the three or four locations where we used to pick up. It's all over the place," said Matthews.
Sometimes people are even caught on camera dumping bulk items. On Case Street, a camera caught a truck pulling up and someone gets out and starts throwing mattresses on the sidewalk. The illegal dumping was reported to police and we're told officers found the vehicle and the suspects.
City officials hope more residents will keep an eye out for people illegally dumping items and call police when they see it. Matthews says the cost to the city is significant: hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
"It's costing the taxpayers and residents money for us out here picking this stuff up across the city where it's coming from out of town. It's a slap in the face, it really is," said Matthews. "This extra illegal bulk is putting a strain on us. It's putting a strain on the staff because it's just constant."
City officials say previously every trash day they would have a bulk truck go out too, but they felt that incentivized illegal dumping because it basically made it free. To try to combat that, starting this year, residents now get two free bulk pickups a year that they can schedule.