Pictured: Alice residents displeased with new policy of front curb garbage pick up filled the council chambers at Monday's meeting. Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez put a halt to the change in service until she meets with the city manager. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

As of Monday, all trash was to be picked up in front

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

More than 75 members of the community filled the second floor of Alice City Hall Monday to protest a new city procedure that will require residents to place their trash cans in the street in front of their homes.

During the Alice City Council meeting Monday, 25 members of that group requested to speak to the council about the change, which took effect Monday.

Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez allowed six of those citizens to address the council on behalf of the group, and all six said the change in procedure would make life more difficult for the elderly and disabled residents of the community.

Although many areas of the city already have curbside pickup of trash in front of homes, some older areas of town have traditionally had trash picked up in the alleys behind homes.

Jack Killingsworth, one of the residents who addressed the council Monday, said the change would inconvenience residents who have always had trash pickup in the alleys.

"You're making us move our trash all the way from the back through the house to the front," Killingsworth said. "You're working for us. Make it easy on us, don't make it easy on you."

Former Alice mayor Fidel Rul said the new procedure was impractical for elderly residents.

"As a taxpaying citizen of this community for 40 years, I am appalled at this new rule," said Rul, former mayor of Alice. "Should an elderly woman in her 80s be required to move her trash can from the back of her home to the front?"

Jim Holmgreen echoed those statements and said there was "no forethought" in the decision to change the procedure.

"My main concern is safety," Holmgreen said. "How many broken hips are you going to pay to have set?"

City staff told the group Monday the changes were part of a program that began in 1997 to increase automation in the city's sanitation department. The change in procedure is designed to allow the city to utilize trucks that use automated arms to pick up and dump trash cans. Those trucks are unable to drive through many alleys in the city, officials said, which led the city to require residents to place their trash cans in the street in front of their home.

Mayor Saenz-Lopez said Monday she was ordering a halt to all changes in the pickup procedures, and said the city will continue pickups as usual until the new policy can be reviewed.

"I will personally meet with our city manager tomorrow to work out a solution to this," Saenz-Lopez said. "We will do alley pickups until further notice."

In other business, the council tabled a request from the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. organization for $3,000 from the city to help fund advertising for the organization's upcoming Noche de Fiesta Tejana.

Several council members questioned whether it was legal for the city to provide funding to a private organization, and advised the Tejano R.O.O.T.S program to seek funding from the Alice Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The council may re-address the issue at a future council meeting after city staff has had an opportunity to investigate the legal issues involved, officials said.

The council voted to create two new committees Monday to focus on different community programs. The first committee created Monday was a Skate Park Feasibility Committee, to determine the feasibility and process of bringing a skate park to the City of Alice.

That committee will include two city council members, two citizens, two students and one member of the Parks and Recreation Board.

The council also authorized the creation of a Recycling Center Committee, to help organize and promote recycling in the City of Alice.

The council authorized the Alice Fire Department to submit an application for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that could provide partial funding for three new fire fighters for the next four years.

The council also voted to amend a previous permit with Weems Geophysical, a company conducting seismic surveying in the area, to reduce the amount of land the company may survey.

The council tabled an agenda item to adjust the Public Works Department's Salary Equity Plan to allow the council to review the proposed plan.

The council also made two presentations Monday.

The city council, along with representatives of HEB, presented a certificate of heroism to Oscar Delgado Sr. in recognition of his efforts to detain a suspect who stabbed an individual at the Alice HEB last month.

The council was also presented with a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Public Drinking Water Recognition Program Certificate.