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Sunday, April 20, 2014

‘Maintaining neighborhoods needs everyone’s help’

Koblerville resident Jack Muña points to used tires that were dumped on a vacant lot along As Gonno Road during an interview yesterday. (Clarissa V. David) A Koblerville resident is appealing to his neighbors to unite in maintaining a vacant public lot in their area to prevent illegal dumping and other unlawful activities.

Jack Muña said yesterday that overgrown weeds have lured others to discard used tires and even dead animal carcasses on the lot located along As Gonno Road across Ahu Drive, posing environmental and safety hazards for nearby residents, including his family.

Muña said he saw about a month ago several teenagers offloading used tires on the lot. He said he yelled at them but they immediately sped off on a pickup truck, abandoning their garbage behind.

Muña, 67, expressed disappointment and frustration as he believes that the young perpetrators live within the vicinity.

Come dry season, the wild grass on the vacant lot might catch fire, he said, burning not just the wild plants but also the used tires and putting residents’ health at risk.

“This place is our community. If we clean this, there’ll be no more dumping. But if we neglect it, people would tend to come and dump their trash on this place,” the longtime Koblerville resident told Saipan Tribune.

Muña has been clearing and maintaining the abandoned property since 1992. “But when I left for the States in 2005, nobody really maintained it. I came back in 2007 and it’s been like this,” he recounted.

While he volunteers his time to maintain the lot, Muna noted how he needs the commitment of other civic-minded neighbors to clean the place regularly.

The retired sales supervisor plans to involve other residents to be part of the cleaning team.

“Once you involve a lot of neighbors, we’re going to have a very nice place. If this is already clean, I’ll guarantee you I’ll look after it because we don’t need this kind of dumping here. People should dispose their trash properly,” he added.

Muña said he is now trying to obtain permits to clear the area, which he found out is public land designated by the Department of Public Lands to the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.

He said he is only waiting for the Division of Fish & Wildlife personnel to arrive today and check if clearing the property would not endanger any bird habitats. Once this is through, Muña plans to call the Saipan Mayor’s Office to schedule a cleanup.

Because of the presence of illegal dumping on island, Muña said he supports strict enforcement of laws that prevent littering and other related activities.

“I believe that in order for this to stop, they should really jack up the fines. If you get caught one time and pay that fine, you’re going to be really sorry for dumping trash and you’re probably not going to do it anymore,” he explained.

Muña emphasized the need to keep their respective villages and surroundings clean.

“We all share the responsibility of watching out for each other. If there’s any illegal dumping or anything happening here, we should report it. If this area is maintained, a lot of our kids in our neighborhood can bike and play here,” he added.

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