March 21, 2011

Group's littering fight is more than trash talk

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Life in Londonderry can get pretty messy sometimes.
But with the help of a newly formed committee aimed at stopping litter bugs in their tracks, a dozen dedicated residents are hoping to brighten up their community in time for spring — and for many seasons to follow.
Last week, Londonderry’s anti-littering advisory committee held its first meeting. The new group, a subcommittee of the solid waste advisory committee, hopes to raise public awareness of what’s become an unsightly problem in certain sections of town.
This past December, town of­ficials announced plans to form such a committee, though discussions had been in the works for much longer. 

Each spring, members of the town’s Beautify Londonderry committee join forces with hundreds of volunteers from various community organizations to spend several weekends picking up litter, planting flowers and completing countless other community projects. 
Following this past spring’s mass cleanup, a concerned resident asked the Town Council to help combat the local litter problem. 
Committee spokesman Kerri Stanley said plans are in the works for the group to work closely with local police to discourage residents inclined to litter. “It is our hope that the public being informed of the ramifi cations of their littering will ultimately deter them from doing so and to dispose of trash properly,” Stanley said on Friday. 
Working closely with police Chief Bill Hart, this group of residents has taken a tough stance on such offenders. 
“This means that if anybody sees another individual littering while driving, that person can get the license plate of the offender and shouldn’t hesitate to report it,” Stanley said. “Residents who want to do their part in reducing the amount of litter should take this as seriously as if they were witnessing any other crime taking place and report it to the authorities.” 
In New Hampshire, those charged with littering can face fines of up to $2,000 along with a year in prison. 
According to Chapter XVI of the town’s municipal code, “litter” is defined as “all rubbish, refuse, garbage, yard waste, trash, debris, dead animals or other discarded materials of every kind and description.” 
Those caught littering in Londonderry may also be subject to town fines, ranging from $100 for the first offense, to $1,000 for the fourth offense. 
Stanley, who is also one of the acting volunteers organizing this spring’s annual Beautify Londonderry initiative, said it’s extremely disheartening to see trash accumulate just days after a project is completed. 
“We are tired of people’s lack of concern for the environment and their ignorance in blatantly tossing trash out their car windows,” she said. 
The committee is currently in the process of consulting local businesses, particularly the town’s fast food restaurants and other places that are located in areas where excessive trash seems to pile up, in hopes business owners can help combat the problem. 
“Something as simple as a sign on their drive-through windows could make the consumer think again before littering,” Stanley said. 
The anti-littering committee meets monthly at Town Hall, with meetings generally held on the third Wednesday evening of each month, and residents wishing to assist this cause are welcome to attend. 
“Slowly but surely we are determined to take back our town and make it a place people can be proud to live and where visitors will note its cleanliness,” Stanley said. “It is not impossible and where there is a will, there is a way. We definitely have the will and now we are making our way.”  

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