You’ve seen the abandoned tires in your neighborhood. Not only are they eyesores, but they breed mosquitoes and other insects (some of which can spread diseases), and are harmful for the environment that we’re so desperately trying to preserve.
Lucky for District 5 (East Atlanta, East Lake, Kirkwood, Edgewood and Reynoldstown), Council member Natalyn Archibong wants them out of her sight just as much as we do. She held her tenth annual District 5 Tire Roundup (in honor of Earth Day) on April 16 and a whopping 1,675 tires were collected. East Atlanta won the challenge for the third year in a row, collecting 1,100 of the total.
Council member Archibong tells us that since 2002, the program has collected and properly disposed of more than 10,000 tires.
So, how did it get to this point?
“In 2002, the city of Atlanta discontinued its Tire Amnesty Program. And, without the City’s funding for transportation and legal disposal methods, tires began to accumulate in yards, vacant lots, right-of-ways and along the streets of Atlanta,” Archibong said.
“In response to requests from neighborhood leaders, I developed and continue to coordinate the District 5 Annual Tire Roundup.”
Neighborhoods develop their own strategies for this day of neighborhood beautification. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the tires are collected and dropped off at drop-off points in each neighborhood; for example, Armor Tires lends out its parking lot for the purpose in East Atlanta.
We got the inside scoop from East Atlanta Tire Roundup organizer Michelle Rice on how the community has been so successful over the years.
“I like to think it's because we've gotten really good at finding dumped tires. We do advance tire recon anywhere there's a dead-end street, vacant lot or foreclosed house because we know those are potential dumping spots," Rice said. "It's kind of like an Easter egg hunt for adults.
“We get dirty and wet, but it's also a lot of fun and very satisfying to get that many mosquito-breeding tires off the streets.”
East Atlanta is the largest of the neighborhoods involved and often, neighbors from surrounding areas pitch in after they’ve finished cleaning up their own zones.
“East Atlanta had about 20 volunteers this year in 6 pickup truck crews. We have a good friend in Reynoldstown, which, being a smaller neighborhood, doesn't have as many tires. Once he finishes his neighborhood, he always comes to help us,” Price said.
By the end of the 5-hour period, volunteers are exhausted, sore and covered in dirt and “tire juice.” But, the satisfaction of getting more than 1,600 eyesores out of the neighborhood makes it all worth it.
Last year, 1,750 tires were collected, so the situation is improving.
“Illegal tire dumping continues to be a problem citywide, but perhaps the decrease is a sign that vigilant neighbors are contributing to the reduction of improper tire disposal,” Archibong said.
“We hope to collect even fewer tires in 2012.”
The neighbors couldn’t agree more.