An old stroller, plastic chairs, bike parts, shopping carts, a VCR, piles of clothing, syringes and other trash was picked up from city property by Oak Harbor city staff members and a state Department of Corrections work crew during a cleanup effort in June.
Oak Harbor Police Chief Kevin Dresker said nobody was actively camping on the sites when he posted them a few days before the cleanup, but it appeared people were living at some of the sites in the past.
The cleaned-up properties were located off of Goldie Road, Seventh Street and Fakkema Road. Trash was also picked up in Freund Marsh.
The extensive work relied on a lot of hands to help.
Dresker said the city was able to leverage help from the Department of Corrections work crew, which is made up of people who are working off public service hours ordered by the court or the state.
In addition, public works staff and police department personnel assisted with the three-day effort. The city’s code enforcement officer and members of the mayor’s new Public Safety Work Group were also involved.
“It worked out really well,” Dresker said.
“It was a symbiotic relationship. Everyone did a great job.”
Public works employees went out ahead of time to try to retrieve hypodermic needles that were discarded at the sites. Dresker said about 100 were found, including a number of them in a container; it was actually fewer than officials had expected.
Island County commissioners agreed to waive tipping fees for a limited number of dumpsters filled with junk.
The cleanup efforts were especially important in environmentally sensitive areas, such as the wetlands on Seventh Avenue and Freund Marsh, according to a city press release.
Dresker said there’s probably three or four sites on private property that are also filled with trash, but neither the Department of Corrections crew nor city employees can do cleanup work on private property for a variety of reasons.
The city’s code enforcement officer is working with the property owners to clean up these vacant properties and to post them with “no trespassing” signs.