SUMMIT COUNTY — Driving my son’s friend home after an afternoon of fishing and longboarding, I saw the clouds start to take on a dramatic tinge. I talked the boys into one more quick stop along I-70 to snap a few shots of the sunset. The overlook along I-70 has quite the expansive view over Summit County and weren’t the only ones taking pictures.
I’ve been fond of this spot ever since I moved here in 1996. On one of my first days commuting along this stretch of highway I stopped early one morning to admire the view and of course noticed the drifts of garbage and litter piled up along the curb and in the dry grass near by. McDonald’s and Taco Bell wrappers, glass bottles, aluminum cans … from the looks of it, people were deliberately emptying the refuse from their cars at this incredible spot.
As a cub reporter, I thought it might make a good story, so I started making some calls.
“Why are there no garbage cans at such an amazing overlook,” I inquired of various officials. “With views like that, you can pretty much be sure that hundreds, if not thousands of people are going to stop here each day, and if there are no garbage cans, you know some of that rubbish is going to end up on the ground.”
The answers I got were as stunning as the views. Nobody wanted to take responsibility for the trash. I was told that it’s too remote, too tough to make regular garbage pickups, that nobody, no agency or government entity wanted to pay for, or take on the liability of keeping the rest area clean. For shame, Summit County, for shame!
I did finally talk to a local who pointed out that volunteer group does do cleanups at the area once or twice a year. Fast-forward 15 years, and nothing has changed, except maybe that there are more cars, and as a result, more garbage. I long ago gave up trying to get the highway department or the local county government to put garbage bins at the site. It seemed like a futile, uphill battle, and there are more important battles to fight. Instead, I try to remember to take big plastic garbage bag with me when I pass that way.