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The Edison Neighborhood is looking to clear out and stop illegally dumped trash

Matthew Smith's Wax Factory Building, at 1809 Reed St., is just south of Jerico, a burgeoning cluster of entrepreneurs, artisans, and crafts people in the 1500 Block of Fulford Street.

In his Reed Avenue workshop after-hours, Matthew Schmidt listens for small trucks out back.

Pickup trucks and cars drive brazenly into the vacant lot behind his 17,000-square-foot building in Kalamazoo’s Edison Neighborhood. They dump rubbish -- car parts, construction materials, household trash, broken appliances, used syringes, broken toys, food, “all sort of stuff you don’t want,” he says.

“Someone looked like they redid their bathroom and ripped out their bathtub,” he says of one incident. “So here’s the old one, thrown out there.”

He suspects tenant-evicting landlords, construction workers, and local businesses are responsible for some of the dumping “because it’s coming in truckloads. Like a pickup truck pulls up, drops a bunch of stuff, and drives off. It’s not like one person drives by and throws one thing.”

But he doesn’t want to start pointing fingers when it comes to the culprits.

Matthew Schmidt, a former U.S. Marine, says he uses his best authoritative voice to scare away would be dumpers behind his building at 1809 Reed Street.

About two minutes away on Stockbridge Avenue just east of Portage Street, trash and garbage spew from the house next door to Lanae Newton. That has continued to happen even though the 820 E. Stockbridge Ave. house was gutted by fire in January of 2021. The condemned residence was apparently used to cook methamphetamines and past residents and others continue to sneak in at night to do drugs, Newton says.

“The house burned last January. And then the garage burned this last summer,” the 39-year-old single mother says. She has struggled to find a way to stop the supposedly vacant property from being misused.

“I put in a bid in on it. I’m trying to buy the parcel,” she says now. In the meantime, the seven-year resident of Edison Neighborhood struggles to deal with the rubbish. It has included old carpets, scrapped car parts, car batteries, chairs, and tires. She says there are still about 20 discarded tires in the yard.

“The other day I had to pay out of my own pocket $60 to rent a U-Haul,” she says, “because I’m thinking that you can take a U-Haul to the dump and just set them (the trash bags) out.”

With a laugh, she says “Apparently, no, that’s not the thing.”

Newton was unaware that there’s a fee for that. In her case, more than $200. So she was forced to find other ways to get rid of the trash. She had hauled 30 bags of garbage that she collected this past winter from the front and side yards of the house next door. She says she bagged trash and stored it in her garage. Otherwise, it would have blown into her yard.