RICHLAND -- Richland plans to change the way trash is collected at its parks. The changes will unfold this spring, and the city's parks and recreation director said they'll save the city money, improve the park experience for users and free up his staff for other work.
In some cases, parkgoers won't even notice a difference.
Today, parks and recreation staffers drive a small garbage truck through the parks, removing the trash bags and hauling the refuse away to the city landfill. But the truck is old and will be retired this year, and the city's solid waste utility will take over.
"Those are really the experts in trash collection, so we think it's an advantage to rely on them (for the park trash pick up)," said Joe Schiessl, parks and recreation director.
The changeover means some park trash cans will be swapped out for the kind that city garbage trucks can lift up automatically -- like the ones used in residential garbage collection.
Some of the cans also will be moved to different locations to provide better access for the garbage trucks.
But the busiest parts of the city's most-used parks -- such as the sprawling Howard Amon Park along the Columbia River -- won't see much of a change.
Parks staff still will empty the cans in those areas, allowing them to keep up with the high trash volume there on weekends. The solid waste utility operates weekdays.
Schiessl said the city expects to see some savings, though he didn't have a precise figure. He also noted it will free up workers in his department for other tasks.
"We think it's a benefit to limit the amount of heavy truck traffic in our parks," he told the Herald. "(It) probably (will lead to) a little better experience for users."
Trish Herron, the city's spokeswoman, said officials will keep the community informed about the changes through social media and other outreach.