Halls Gap overlook not so scenic

March 10, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Lincoln County magistrates have set their sights on cleaning up one of the county's most popular illegal dumps, the historic Halls Gap overlook on Ky. 1247.

The overlook has a stone wall separating the small gravel pull-off area from a steep, wooded hillside that provides a sweeping view of the valley below. But what has collected just on the other side of the wall is causing the county concern.

"People get out on those old county roads and these old state roads and they throw out junk," said Judge-Executive Buckwheat Gilbert.

"It's a landmark and they just pull up there. It's household junk and everything," said Magistrate Erlin Cress.

Shells of old appliances, tires, heaps of rusted metal and alcohol bottles cover the landscape. Less than two feet from the low stone wall lay a hypodermic needle. Within inches of the wall was the decaying carcass of a large dog.


On Tuesday, magistrates approved a bid by Foister Construction of Gray to clean the hillside. The company has overseen the clean-up of more than 20 dumps to date, said James Foister.

According to its bid, the company will recycle or dispose of the waste and will seed the area with Kentucky tall fescue grass for $18,400. The rock wall will be sandblasted to remove graffiti. Surveillance cameras also may be installed to catch repeat dumpers.

The state is covering the costs through a Bluegrass PRIDE grant. PRIDE stands for Personal Responsibility in a Desirable Environment.

Gilbert said the spot was cleaned seven or eight years ago, but has consistently been trashed.

"You're going to have trouble with any spot you can pull up to like that," Gilbert said.

Concern about type of trash being dumped

He also expressed concern over the type of trash being dumped on the hillside. Animal carcasses have been found in past clean-ups and can still be found there, even though the county provides free disposal of any carcass. Used tires have discarded at the site, but the county has continually sponsored tire amnesty days, where used tires can be disposed of for free. A tire amnesty day has been planned for next month.

Appliances are also prevalent on the hillside, despite the free pick-up and removal service offered by the Lincoln County Recycling Center.

"A lot of people will throw them over a hill or something. (Dropping them off at the center) doesn't cost anything, and we even go and pick it up if they don't have a way to get it here," said Marion Bastin at the center. His wife, June, is the county's solid waste coordinator.

Bastin said the visual impact of used appliances on the environment is not the only danger.

"The rust and the chemicals off it runs into the drinking water and contaminates it. Years ago, if you went swimming in a stream, you could take a drink right out of it. Now, you wouldn't want to do that," said Bastin.

Part of the problem could be lack of garbage pick-up in the county, suggested one citizen. But Gilbert insisted that the large majority of people have trash service. About 2,800 Lincoln Countians receive the services of BFI, and 212-214 use M&M Sanitation companies.

"It's mostly trash. They don't want to pay the $10 or $11 a month to have their trash picked up," said Bastin.

Foister expects to begin the clean-up in about a month or six weeks. It is estimated to take about three weeks to complete.

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