City of Tacoma Public Works crews started in with the big machines today on the East Side’s massive First Creek cleanup.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing a plus-size excavator munch away at the layers of junk people have tossed over every accessible bit of the ancient creek bank. The reality was even cooler than the anticipation.
The tossing is something of a neighborhood tradition, said Edwina Magrum, the community organizer behind the cleanup. She met a woman who, when she moved to the neighborhood, was told that if she had anything big to discard, all she had to do was wheel it down the street, over the bridge and behind the church, and give it a push into T Street Gulch.
With this cleanup, the gulch is getting an upscale new name: First Creek. The new title refers to the days when it was one of the Puyallup Tribe’s favorite salmon streams.
Edwina met that woman while gathering signatures on a petition asking for the city’s help in cleaning the impromptu dump. She was hoping for permission and haul-away service. Instead, when environmental specialist Chris Ott got a load of the mess, he realized it was beyond the scope of even the most determined volunteers. We’re talking cars, refrigerators, propane tanks, sofas, lawn mowers, dishwashers, microwaves., mattresses, tires.
This job, Ott realized, would require an excavator with a 50-foot reach, a dozer with pincer jaws to grab the detritus, and a crew to keep fresh jumbo dumpsters coming all day long.
This morning, the site was like a party. Edwina showed up with longtime resident Andrew Wood, one of the first to sign her petition. Lisa Wojtanowicz, head of Tacoma CARES stopped by a with a cadre of inspectors and a representative from City Manager Eric Anderson’s office. Members of the Puyallup Tribe, which are partners in the cleanup, came. Tacoma Police community liaison officers Jim Shin and Bert Hayes checked in.
You’re invited, too.
City employees want to get the message out that this is a serious effort to get rid of the junk for good. They’d like people to know that all this refrigerator flinging is a lot more trouble than the free alternative, Call 2 Haul. Any Tacoman living in a single family home or duplex can get oversized items picked up for free twice a year. Just phone (253) 573-2468 or log onto www.tacomaservices.org.
The Tacoma crew wants you to come and watch them grappling with the gulch garbage so you’ll get a sense of how hard it is to remove the trash. And they like to show off their cool dozers and excavators in action.
Their one rule: Don’t get in the way.
They’ll be working near T Street between 32nd and 34th Streets East for the rest of the week. Just look for the white city trucks, the blue dumpster and the giant orange excavator.