For many years the Fayetteville Transportation and Local History Museum has conducted walking tours around the city. One of the most popular tours is the Historic Architecture Tour downtown, replete with stunning Pre Civil War Greek Revival, Early Federal, Mediterranean Revival and Art Deco buildings. It’s sort of a hodgepodge of styles, City Historian Bruce Daws, director of the museum noted. “That’s what makes downtown real interesting,” he said. Daws has led these tours for years. One of them typically begins at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library on Maiden Lane, then across the street to Burgess Street to the FILI Armory and Museum. The Point News building at Old Street and Ray Avenue is a focal point. Daws tells Up & Coming Weekly he tries not to take large groups along Old Street because of the narrow sidewalk. And there’s another reason: the eight or nine, and sometimes as many as 11, roll out trash carts overflowing with garbage that block the sidewalk at the rear of the Blue Moon Café. “Oh God, they’re terrible,” said Daws.
That’s an issue that has festered for years. The business community is apparently no closer to a solution than it was a year ago. “Regrettably, our proposal between the city, the church and the property owners has been declined,” said Downtown Alliance President Tony Chavonne. He speaks of an effort among the Alliance, the Blue Moon Café, Hay Street United Methodist Church and the city to locate a pair of dumpsters on church property.
Fayetteville Infrastructure Director Rob Stone said his office has attempted to negotiate an agreement with the church to swap six church parking spaces for eleven spaces on an adjacent city-owned parking lot. But the church isn’t interested. Pastor David Blackman asked Board of Trustees Chairman Joe Melvin to respond to an inquiry from Up & Coming Weekly: “Unfortunately the parking lot adjacent to our main vehicle entrance...our portico...is a very small parcel of land with a limited number of parking spaces,” he said. “We are not able at the present...to reallocate any parking spaces to facilitate an Old Street dumpster placement.”
Dr. Menno Pennick who owns many of the buildings on the north side of the 300 block of Hay Street, is frustrated, “I am very disappointed with the response from Joe Melvin and I cannot believe that there is no solution to the problem,” he said. “With the new planned restaurant on the corner of Old and Burgess Streets things will be even worse,” Pennick added.
The Blue Moon Café generates much of the garbage and recyclables in that vicinity. It uses the roll out garbage carts that line the narrow Old Street sidewalk. That’s a violation of a city ordinance. Code Enforcement Director Scott Shuford told Up & Coming Weekly that the city’s Infrastructure & Engineering Department enforces blocked sidewalks. Not so, says Stone, “We don’t do any enforcement authority at all. We don’t have the power,” he said. Another ordinance requires property owners to remove trash carts from the curb once they’ve been emptied. But, the Blue Moon’s carts remain on the sidewalk 24/7. There’s nowhere else for them to go. A commercial garbage truck contracts with the Blue Moon to pick up its trash weekly, and therein lies another part of the problem. The roll out carts overflow prior to scheduled pickups. “We’ve been called a few times in the past to address garbage at some of the locations downtown,” said Daniel Ortiz, Cumberland County Environmental Health Director. Ortiz didn’t indicate that there had been any violations at the Blue Moon. The owner of the Blue Moon and her general manager declined to comment.
“The ordinance was written for residential collection,” said Environmental Services Director Jerry Deitzen. “It’s not cut and dry as it applies to businesses,” he added. So, a pair of city ordinances go unenforced, and City Council may have to get involved. City Councilman Kirk deViere, who represents the downtown area, is himself an inner-city business owner. “As downtown continues to grow, we must and will address the disposal of trash for both residential and small business, as the current situation like we see along Old Street is unacceptable,” he said. deViere has asked City staff to suggest some alternatives for the disposal of solid waste across the center city.
“Six or eight community dumpster sites would solve the problem,” businessman Bruce Arnold said. Arnold and his wife Molly have owned a pair of shops downtown for 17 years. Many Hay Street and Person Street businesses have “partnered with one another to share dumpsters,” he added. A half dozen business people pay for two dumpsters on Franklin Street which are contained inside an enclosure with a locked gate. Each merchant has a key. Along the 100 block of Person Street which has seen tremendous development in recent years there is plenty of room behind the stores for merchants to place dumpsters, says deViere. Finding a dumpster site somewhere along Old Street remains an issue. Because of the nature of the historic one-way, one-lane street and the popularity of the businesses fronting Hay Street, a years old dilemma remains unresolved.