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Solutions sought after project to cleanup Downtown alley moves grease & trash juice onto sidewalk

A new location for some of Downtown Boise’s trash is making for a sticky and smelly situation along Bannock St.

In 2017, the alley behind the Union Block got a makeover. The Capital City Development Corporation worked to make physical improvements to the alley, including new pavers and lights.

Several property owners in the area also worked together to relocate their trash collection facilities from the alley to an area inside the parking garage for the Idaho building, which sits along Bannock St.

On several recent occasions, grease and liquids oozed from the new trash area, across the sidewalk and into the gutter.

The shared dumpsters and grease collectors sit on property owned by Ken Howell. He said he did not know about the seepage issue, but said the garbage collection area is an ongoing challenge.

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“Owners on the alley have issues with the central collection system,” he said. “(Restaurant) staff sometimes doesn’t get trash into the dumpster. It’s quite a free for all.”

He said moving the trash moved the challenges from the alley to the private area.

Regular cleanup challenge

Crews work to clean up the sidewalk along Bannock St. in Downtown Boise Thursday morning. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

While taking pictures for this story, members of the Downtown Boise “Maintenance Matters” team arrived and started cleaning the pavers.

“The leakage is coming from the trash compactor just behind that gate. The Downtown Maintenance Matters Team (DMMT) has literally been hand scrubbing the sidewalk almost daily to clean it up,” Downtown Boise Association Executive Director Lynn Hightower said.

A member of the team told BoiseDev they hadn’t gotten to it in a few days, but responded to a cleanup call. The maintenance worker said they would probably have to visit more frequently now that the weather is warming up.

Next steps: this alley – and another

“The DBA office has reached out to the folks who own and use these trash facilities and requested their assistance with a permanent solution that prevents the leakage,” Hightower said.

She said the relocation of the trash facilities off the alley was a “great project,” and sometimes these types of projects create other issues.

“As with lots of large projects, side issues happen that need addressed and this is one.”

Howell said he planned to take a look at the situation after our call.

Matt Edmond with CCDC, which is currently working on a similar project behind the Basque Block, said the approach in that area differs.

“We plan to install some screening fence around existing dumpsters,” he said. “Businesses at the east end plan to relocate their compactor further east in the alley.”

He also said the dumpsters would not be along a street frontage like they are on Bannock St.

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