Letters to the editor (05/16/13)

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Too much trash distracts  from the beauty of the area
Editor:
I used to invite friends to run through the city of Belen, and in the mesas west and east of town. I no longer do because it is too embarrassing to run with company through so much garbage and trash before we reach a reasonably garbage-free mesa.
For example, just north of Belen High School and Eagle Park, and east of I-25, is a trash heap that grows larger every week. Many locals use this space as a walk, bike way or path to the mesa or other nearby locations.
The high school cross country team has to run by the garbage on many of their daily training runs. The east mesa is just as bad, and in some places, far worse.
There is trash everywhere — in town, along ditchbanks and in most locations along the entire perimeter of town. And it’s not always minor or incidental trash. We are talking major dumping, including but not limited to animal carcasses, abandoned vehicles, furniture, construction materials, tires, TVs, piles of full trash and garbage bags.
In other words, whatever you find at an official dump site, you will also see at these locations. Trash heaps like these used to be a rarity, but now are commonplace around Belen.
To tell people not to dump trash is meaningless, but stricter enforcement and oversight along with discontinuing to charge a fee for taking trash to the official dump site south of Belen would be helpful. Many people just cannot afford to pay a fee every time they want to dump trash, so they will dump wherever they can, including the mesas or in and around town.
The property owners should not have to pay to have the trash removed, and in many cases, couldn’t even if they wanted to because of the sheer volume of garbage and trash on their property.
The mesas east and west of Belen are beautiful, and horsemen, bicyclists, walkers and joggers would be hard pressed to find a better and more beautiful location so close to home to be outside.
When one tops out at the west plateau, the sight is amazing with vistas of the Manzanos, Sandias, Ladrone Peak, Mount Taylor, the San Mateos and the Jemez mountain ranges. The Rio Grande Valley view is second to none.
Unfortunately, the top of the mesa is not immune to garbage because people can and do drive up onto the mesa, and dump there as well, and often off the edge of the mesa rim. (Recently), I found a dead dog in a garbage bag when I reached the top of the plateau. It’s pitiful.
If we could clean up not only our city, but the ditchbanks and mesas, and provide a convenient and free official dump site, more people would be inclined to visit and partake in the vast beauty the Belen landscape has to offer. A place where we could invite company to visit without hesitation.
We need to get a handle on this ongoing problem because it isn’t going away anytime soon, and only worsens as time goes by.

Ed Padilla
Belen