Residents of Deering Center used social media and a neighborhood meeting to bring an end to snow being dumped in a secluded corner of Baxter Woods.
Portland’s Ultimate Car Wash at 798 Forest Ave. was criticized by neighbors regarding the removal of snow from its property. Some shared their concerns online about snow being removed from the car wash parking lot and pushed to the other side of a fence that separates the car wash from Baxter Woods, a municipal park protected by the city.
Car wash owners Mike and Sharon Snow said they were surprised to receive calls from both the city and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection early last week about their snow-clearing process. They said they weren’t contacted by neighbors, and Mike, who doesn’t use social media, was unaware of any problems.
Sharon Snow said they are always happy to talk with neighbors who have concerns or just want to know more about their procedures and they invite them to stop by and chat anytime.
Hearing about the concerns was upsetting, she said, because she tries to get along with others.
“We have to get along,” Mike Snow added. “This community supports us.” He said the Snows purchased the self-service car wash in 2014 and have lived in Portland for more than 30 years.
He said the business is responsible for removing snow from its public sidewalks, and didn’t question moving it back onto city property along a guard rail at the property line. The area is away from most trees, but part of Baxter Woods.
After complaints reached city Parks Director Alex Marshall, he told the business owners that the snow shouldn’t be moved onto city property anymore, and the Snows agreed. In the future, Sharon said, if there’s too much snow to keep on the property, they’ll call a company to take it away.
“As long as they’re moving the snow and keeping it right there on their property, I don’t have an issue with what’s going on in that space,” Marshall said. He also said he’ll keep in touch with the Snows in the future.
Hartley Street resident Lynde Folsom started a petition to raise awareness about the neighborhood’s concerns. They said the intent was to get the city and state to look into the dumping and ensure the area remains safe for walking.
Previous complaints regarding trash in that area of the woods last summer may also have contributed to the concern that came from residents about the snow.
Debra Ann Gorneault, a neighbor who made an initial post about the snow dumping, said she spoke with Marshall in the past regarding the Forest Avenue edge of Baxter Woods, and said he told her that section is one of the more neglected areas of the park.
Folsom and Gorneault explained their concerns at a Deering Center Neighborhood Association meeting on Feb. 9. On social media, Gorneault alleged there could be trash and other harmful materials in the dumped snow that could wind up in Baxter Woods.
Folsom said the rest of the neighborhood was notified out of a desire to ensure the woods are being protected. They called it everyone’s “shared backyard.”
“No dumping” signs were put up at the car wash last summer as a result of the trash problem. Mike Snow said it was determined that the trash was from other sources, not his business.
He said they try to clean up their property every day, and trash receptacles for patrons of the car wash are on the side of the property away from Baxter Woods.
David Madore, deputy commissioner of the Maine DEP, said staff has also worked with the business owners in the past to ensure the best practices are in place in terms of proper waste management and litter cleanup.
Marshall said in an email that there are many sources of trash that accumulate in that area of the woods, but he said the city is on a good path to addressing the problem.