John Sykes said he’s got problems with people who dump unwanted garbage on land his organization owns west of Tyler — but he knows why they do it.
“Where do you get rid of paint, old mattresses or tires? Someone needs to provide citizens with a place to dispose of unwanted items,” Sykes, chief executive officer of The Park of East Texas-East Texas State Fair, said Friday. The city landfill charges a fee to dispose items, he said.
Sykes said the city has cameras on his organization’s property, 4609 Old Chandler Road, but he still has to pay to have the garbage removed from there.
That property is one of the top locations in the city for illegal dumping, according to a city of Tyler report.
Other popular locations within city limits are at 2951 W. Grande Blvd.; 4337 Bellwood Road; 427 W. Nutbush Road and the 1400 to 1500 block of W. 33rd Street in north Tyler.
“It’s frustrating to have people dump trash — no one wants junk on their property,” Sykes said. Illegal trash dumping is a problem that won’t go away because of the cost involved, which is the reason people look for secret, out-of-the way areas to dump garbage, Sykes said.
Chris Lennon, code enforcement officer for the city, said the problem is on the rise.
In 2008, there were 98 initial case files opened on illegal dumping incidents, but by 2013, that number had increased to 383.
Since 2008, when the city first began using cameras to record offenders, there have been 1,563 files opened on illegal dumping, with 48 citations issued.
Lennon said it is difficult to track down offenders.
He attributed the quadrupling of dumping incidents from 2008 to last year to several factors.
“Code enforcement officers are more aware of it, and … people don’t want to pay the cost of taking trash to the landfill,” Lennon said.
He showed a time-lapse film of two people emptying the bed of a pickup truck at the West Grande Boulevard location, a common location in the city for trash dumping.
A camouflaged camera attached to a tree captured the images.
“People often think they are not being observed when they are on a secluded spot, but they are,” Lennon said, adding that the city uses multiple cameras on some properties.
Lennon said that at the West Grande site, someone recently wanted to dump trash but discovered one of the cameras, cut down the tree and stole the camera. Later, Lennon discovered a new pile of garbage at the site.
He said code enforcement officers continue to work the case.
“We are trying to use the press to help get the word out,” Lennon said, adding that people who leave illegally dumped trash sometimes do leave clues.
For example, he found a receipt to a scrap metal business in one pile of garbage, which had the name of the individual who left it.
“Sometimes people aren’t too bright,” Lennon said.
Most of those who are caught on camera, will plead guilty, Lennon said.
Non-commercial dumping of less than five pounds is a Class C misdemeanor, which can result in fines up to $2,000. Code Enforcement can only cite for the Class C violations.
The maximum penalty for non-commercial dumping of more than 1,000 pounds is a charge of a state jail felony, but it is the Tyler Police Department that handle citations for any violations over a Class C misdemeanor, city officials said. The Code Enforcement Department has a 100 percent conviction rate in Municipal Court involving illegal dumping cases, according to information received from the city.
The Tyler landfill is at 12920 Farm-to-Market Road 2767.
“If they have an active city water bill, they can take items to the landfill free of charge once a month — it’s the equivalent to the size of the bed of a medium pickup, or about three cubic yards,” he said.
Other times, the landfill will charge a rate per cubic yard, Lennon said. He suggested contacting the city’s solid waste department for information on disposal of paint and old tires.
Anyone who observes illegal dumping should notify Code Enforcement by calling 903-531-1312, or fill out a violation report on the Code Enforcement website atwww.cityoftyler.org/Departments/CodeEnforcement/ToReportCodeViolations.aspx . Include the address of the violation, what the violation is and a contact number in case more information is needed. All reports are anonymous, according to information received from the city.