ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some northeast Albuquerque neighbors are calling out a local church over trash and litter they say is spilling into surrounding property.
People living across from the East Gate Church near Copper Avenue and Juan Tabo Boulevard say the church isn’t doing a good enough job containing the trash thrown out into the church and daycare’s dumpsters.
While the church says it’s trying to be a good neighbor and fix the situation, some neighbors say they’re tired of the mess they say has gone on too long.
“I’m really frustrated,” said Michael Jaramillo, who lives near the East Gate Church.
Jaramillo and his wife Jill say the trash problem from the nearby church has been ongoing for “more than two years.”
“It’s always blowing into our yard,” said Jill Jaramillo, in an interview with KRQE News 13 Monday afternoon. “We used to have diapers coming into our yard from the daycare.”
The family recently filed a complaint against the church through the city of Albuquerque’s 311 website, saying the church’s trash and recycling dumpster lids are open “24 hours a day,” and that bags of trash surround the dumpsters.
On Monday, KRQE News 13 found both dumpster lids open, and some trash clearly hanging out of the dumpster. At least one cardboard box had also blown out of the dumpster.
Other neighbors have noticed the open lids and varying litter in the neighborhood.
“I have seen like diapers in the road and kind of thought like yeah.. it looks.. doesn’t look nice,” said a neighbor on Zena Lona Drive.
Over the phone, East Gate Church Pastor Jon Wheeler acknowledged the problem.
“We try and be good neighbors in that, but yeah it did get full this weekend,” said Wheeler of the church dumpsters.
Wheeler also admitted that the church has a tough time keeping the lids closed for varying reasons, including people who drive by and illegally ditch their trash in the church dumpsters.
“It has been a thing with people just come and they dump and then we get the credit for it, in having too much,” said Wheeler.
Church staff told KRQE News 13 Monday that they called the city last week to schedule a garbage pick-up, even getting a “confirmation number” for service that the church says was supposed to pick-up on Saturday. However, church staff told KRQE News 13 that city crews never came to empty the dumpster over the weekend.
Pastor Wheeler told KRQE News 13 that the church tries to keep up with the open lid issue.
“We’re always on the teachers and the staff at the church, our maintenance guys to keep the lids closed because we don’t want (trash) blowing around on our or anybody else’s, that’s for sure,” said Wheeler.
He also says he encourages neighbors to call him directly or church staff if they have a complaint. Both phone numbers are listed on the church’s website.
“We’ve tried to make ourselves available and anybody who has come to us with a concern or question, we’re ready to talk and we’re not trying to hide,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler says the church is looking into quotes to “build a fence” around the dumpsters, however, neighbors say they’ve heard that before.
“We keep talking with the pastor and he keeps telling us basically like he acts as if it’s not his problem,” said Jaramillo.
The city is still looking into the complaint and no warnings or citations have been filed yet, but the rules are spelled out clearly in city code.
Albuquerque’s “Anti-Weed and Litter Ordinance” broadly requires all private property owners to keep their land clear of trash.