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Illegal dumping hotline, tracking repeat offenders, among changes Memphis task force is considering to stop blight, growing trash piles

Entering its fourth month, the city’s newly formed group met to specifically discuss short-term solutions to the growing problem.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thursday, the Memphis Blight and Illegal Dumping task force held its latest meeting to look at all possible solutions to halt the trash still piling up across the city. 

“We have discussed pure city solutions to illegal dumping, we have discussed pure city solutions to blight, vacant lots and abandoned structures,” said City Council member Rhonda Logan. 

Entering its fourth month, the city’s newly formed group met to specifically discuss short-term solutions to the growing problem. 

“We’re going to finalize those so we can move them to the council floor,” Logan said. 

Meanwhile, the seemingly never-ending battle against rising piles of garbage and buildings falling further into disrepair continues in Memphis neighborhoods like Frayser.

“No matter how much and how many times we clean up, we see it (keep) happening,” said Tiffany Clay, a member of community service group Frayser Connect. 

Proposed fixes the task force is considering include: distributing pamphlets about what illegal dumping is and how to report it, putting anti-illegal dumping graphics with a hotline number on (non-emergency) city vehicles and having people report illegal dumping incidents to CrimeStoppers.

“Reporting and having an awards system for it,” Public Works Director Robert Knecht clarified.  

Clay, who is a community ambassador for Frayser Connect, says education and accountability are their greatest needs. 

“And education in every space,” she said. “Maybe reminding residents of what resources are available, like the opportunity to use the dump.”

Frayser Connect tries to organize regular community cleanup events each month. Clay says they’ve held at least five so far in 2022.

Clay says some of the biggest problems in the neighborhood involve tracking down non-compliant property owners and repeat offenders dumping their garbage in the same spot time and time again.

“Large piles of furniture or tires or different things that they see,” she said. 

Especially since she says people are traveling to Frayser to leave their garbage behind. 

“We’ve seen things show up in Frayser that are not from our zip code, are not from our area,” Clay said. 

There is a proposal involving a similar concept that is on the task force’s list. 

“For the (caught on) camera cases, that don’t have a license plate, but (someone) has dumped (garbage) five or six times…where people can just call in, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve seen that guy,’” a task force member explained. 

Clay says the key is just getting boots on the ground. 

“If you see trash on the ground, pick it up,” she said. “Let’s pick it up and work together to keep our area clean.”

The illegal dumping task force is in the process of rating the proposed solutions based on how immediate the need for them is. The will present their final list to the city council, which is scheduled to meet December 6.

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