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City Tackles Butt Problems


by Jessica Neary

MONTPELIER — Lynn Perkins Syz is not a littering fan. At a March 2 meeting of the Montpelier Design Review Committee, Syz outlined a proposal to install six new cigarette receptacles at identified “hotspots” for cigarette butt littering.

The receptacles, based on a London, England Neat Streets Project, will be made by Portland, Maine manufacturer Michael Roylos at a cost of $89.00 apiece.

Five of the pilot receptacles will be financed by Central Vermont New Directions and a grant from Montpelier’s “Trash Tramps” — a group of volunteers who monitor cigarette butt disposal and lack thereof, as well as other littering issues. The sixth receptacle, according to Syz, will be jointly financed by the Montpelier Senior Activities Center and Central Vermont Solid Waste Disposal.

A lively discussion surrounded Syz’s project, including concerns about color, attachment to lightposts vs.existing street signs, and whether the receptacles would encouragesmoking, a widespread concern among design review committee members, especially Eric Gilbertson and Theodore Feder. The concern about promoting smoking was addressed by Syz, who said a toll-free number for 802-QUITS would be prominently displayed on the metal boxes.

Committee Chairman Stephen Everett started a lively dialogue about the aesthetics of the boxes, especially their color, how prominently the words “Toss Your Butts Here” would show up, and whether pictures of cigarette butts would be large enough for people to see. Syz said the color of the boxes would correspond to a signature color for Monpelier Alive, a teal, blue-green color. Everett suggested a color more green than blue would stand out against the blue-red color of Montpelier’s brick building facades.

Everett thought a deep, deep color contrasted with very light-colored lettering would be best. Syz countered that manufacturer Roylos has not had a problem with people identifying boxes and their purpose.

Montpelier’s Trash Tramps pledged to empty, weigh and recycle used butts on a weekly basis, sending them to a company that would transform butts into park benches.

All members agreed that the new containers, with their attractive teal and red-brown coloring and design, would be vastly superior to existing black plastic receptacles, which have been documented by Syz and the Trash Tramps as prone to falling over/falling apart and even bursting into flames.