It’s crunch time for supporters of the automated curbside solid waste collection initiative for the entire city of Fort Smith.
Organizer Joel Culberson, who launched the effort following a 4-3 vote from the Fort Smith Board of Directors on June 5 to continue manual collection to alleyways, said he has “800 signatures notarized and in my possession.”
In 2010, the Board of Directors voted to institute automated trash collection, or curbside pickup, city-wide. The Park Hill neighborhood, where Culberson resides, was converted to automated collection in 2011, but the board voted to suspend the process and renew manual collection on March 6.
Despite two of three surveys showing majority preference for automated curbside collection, the June vote exempted 13 of the remaining 21 Fort Smith neighborhoods from the program.
Automated supporters now are hoping to place their initiative on the November ballot for a city-wide vote.
With a target of 2,822 and a deadline of next Wednesday (Aug. 8), one might think Culberson should have cause for concern. But there are still several factors that make this effort too close to call.
“We have distributed about 250 additional petition packets (10 signatures per packet), and if all of those are completed and submitted by our deadline, we would easily make our goal,” Culberson said. “It’s a matter of getting those completed and turned in.”
Culberson said the Vote for Automated effort “started last week using paid canvassers that we are sourcing through a local temp agency. We have some going door-to-door targeting registered voter households and some staffed at public places.”
The Stephens Building, Revenue Office, and State Office Building, are all locations where signatures are being collected, Culberson wrote in an email, adding that “this weekend, we are going to hold two drive-thru events: one at Carol Ann Cross Park on 74th Street and one at Kelley Ballfields (Church League fields) on Old Greenwood Road.”
Culberson continued: “These are going to be held on Saturday and Sunday from 8AM - Noon. We will also have representatives at Sweet Bay (by Creekmore Park) all day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”
Since launching the Facebook page in mid-June, the Vote for Automated campaign, which has won support from Ward 1 Fort Smith Board of Directors candidate Keith Lau, Ward 3 candidate Mike Lorenz, and Ward 4 candidate John Cooley, as well as support from current City Directors Andre Good (Ward 2), Don Hutchings (Ward 3), and Kevin Settle (At-Large, Vice-Mayor), has grown to 603 “Likes.”
“We are working to secure the signatures by next Wednesday. If someone would like for us to bring a petition to them, they can call 242-3007 and leave their contact information and we will get back with them. Of course, we have our Facebook page and our website if people have questions.”