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Kent's Free Rock Salt Program Canceled After Only Two Weeks.

'Inappropriate pickup' and safety issues are main reasons behind decision.

A few bad apples have spoiled , launched just two weeks ago.

Kent Service Director Gene Roberts announced the program’s suspension Friday due to several instances of “inappropriate pickup” and safety issues brought to light by a man wandering into the city’s salt dome in search of more product.

City Manager Dave Ruller introduced the free service Jan. 5 in his Kent 360° blog post about the importance of residents shoveling and salting their sidewalks – and the city’s efforts to get that message out.

Ruller said he was hopeful that giving rock salt away was a better means to encourage snow shoveling than establishing stricter laws and penalties for people who don't clear their walks.

He also made sure to point out, “This is meant as a service for residents, not contractors, and we will use video equipment to make sure that the right people are using this new service.”

Roberts said Friday that program violators weren't deterred by the video camera trained on the salt bin, situated just outside the fence surrounding Kent’s yard waste site. Nor were they deterred by the presence of city employees working nearby.

“During the last major storm event, there was a guy who pulled up in a pickup truck with a snowplow on the front who unloaded the whole bin into his truck. Another guy came in and filled up eight 5-gallon buckets. There’s no reason an individual resident would need that much salt,” Roberts said.

A safety issue came to light, Roberts said, when “another guy walked into the salt dome wanting to fill his bucket.” The dome is used to store salt that is loaded into city trucks with large equipment – and it’s not open to the public.

Roberts said the city gave away between 2¼ and 2½ tons of salt during the two-week experiment at a cost of about $80. But those stats didn’t lead to the program’s demise.

“It was the fact that it was being abused. People weren’t acting appropriately and were even starting to act in an unsafe manner,” Roberts explained.

The service director said he couldn’t estimate how many individual residents cashed in on the service during its two-week run.

“If in the event everybody took a bucket, we could get close to an accurate number. But when you get one guy emptying the entire barrel into a trash can … they were emptying it as quickly as we would fill it up,” Roberts said. “Hopefully our good Kent residents were able to get a bucket of salt when the program was operational.”

Just to be sure the program should be suspended, Roberts got up early Friday morning to drive up and down various Kent streets for a first-hand look.

“I’d have a different opinion (about canceling the program) if I had driven down city streets and saw a lot of sidewalks wet from salt – not snowy,” he said.

As for the program violators? The city won’t be pursuing action against them.

“We haven’t watched every hour of videotape. The one thing I can say with a high degree of certainty is that we can identify vehicles, but not to that same degree of certainty who was driving them,” Roberts explained. “We’re just cutting (the service) off before we lose any more money. It’s a shame that it didn’t work out.”

dharma freebird January 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM
How sad that a few jerks, who do not know how to follow rules, could ruin this nice offer from the city!!
Holly Schweitzer January 21, 2012 at 12:10 PM
How disappointing! Unfortunate that some individuals chose to abuse a community resource. Next time someone gripes about not getting enough for tax dollars, remember this, and how quickly it was grossly misused.
Mindy Davis January 21, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Good things to benefit regular folks always seem to be ruined by someone who thinks they can do whatever they like at the expense of the rest of us. Thanks morons!
Betty Williams January 21, 2012 at 02:14 PM
To the jerks who ruined it for us...thanks for nothing, I did not get one grain of salt
Wade January 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Ok Patch editors, you have outed individuals who didnt pay their property fees, a lady who didn't fulfill her part of a grant deal, and another lady who bumped Bistro on Main with her car. We want the name(s) of the jackass(as) who stole our salt. Would not reflect well on the plow company that desalted us, and that would be a good thing. Iyam.
* January 21, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Thank you Kent for trying the idea of free salt. It's ridiculous and sad how quickly some individuals did exactly what they were requested not to do. I feel lucky I stopped by the other day to fill my lone little container. My small bucket will last me the rest of this season and may even keep my sidewalk safe into a few of next years snow storms too. Again, it was such a wonderful idea and thanks for trying it. What's that saying? The few ruin it for the many. Too often that seems to be the way it goes...
Chris (Kit) Myers January 21, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The city won't be taking action against them? What? Ribbit and Wade have hit the nail on the head. Name names and show the videos. I will call the city Monday morning and request to see them. Are the tapes not public records? If any city employees saw this happening, name them.
Chris (Kit) Myers January 21, 2012 at 06:01 PM
One thing more and then I'll shut up. Maybe. "Inappropriate pickup" is a nice glossy term to use when people have blatantly committed a crime against the the city. Perhaps we should refer to burglary as 'inappropriate entering of someone else's home in order to walk out with his goods.' Or murder as inappropriately ending someone else's life.' Or rape as 'inappropriate intercourse.' A spade is a spade; let's call thievery what it is.
MOST HATED PERSON ON PATCH January 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM
hahahahahahahahaha oh please, c'mon guys.
Chris (Kit) Myers January 21, 2012 at 06:46 PM
What do you find so funny, b?
MOST HATED PERSON ON PATCH January 21, 2012 at 06:50 PM
that you guys are calling for peoples heads! THE INHUMANITY! yeah some people abused the offer, not really stealing since it was there for FREE anyway. just go shovel your walks, cause i know most of you don't. carry on.
Chris (Kit) Myers January 21, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Your generalization is not good enough, b. Just who are the "most of you don't" to whom you refer? Name them!
MOST HATED PERSON ON PATCH January 21, 2012 at 07:03 PM
NAME NAMES! DRAG THE GUILTY INTO THE STREET AND CHASTISE THEM FOR ALL TO BEAR WITNESS. sorry i have better things to do, like getting y'all so worked up. gtg brb lol
* January 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught. ~J.C. Watts
Jon Ridinger January 22, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Yeah, there's a bit of a difference between abusing a free salt program and not paying property taxes (which is public record; Patch didn't "out" anyone) or running your car into a business. The city won't go after anyone because it would cost them far more to prosecute (and on what charges?) than the salt costs. In the end, if they ever try this again, it needs to be a program that isn't a free-for-all, no-questions-asked kind of thing. You're always going to have people who will abuse such a program. It's going to have to be something that is much more organized.
A Durkalski January 22, 2012 at 02:30 AM
There is a big bru-ha-ha about using and abusing the rock salt offered by the city of Kent. But...... The new bridge, the walkers area, is not shoveled or salted. Walkers, students and individuals, really put their life in there hands travelling up and over the "new" bridge. I do not think for a minute that the workers that are dis-ensembling the old bridge should shovel the wide walkway. The road crew for portage county has been active on the main roads, then eventually to the side streets. I can see that there is a plan. But the sidewalks are, in my words, impassable.Lazy store owners are numerous. Come on and get it done for the walking public!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hire someone. Give someone a job!!!!
Myron Holley January 22, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Some one is lie'ing here. How do you fill up 8 five gallon pails from a 30 gallon bin. Was a joke to begin with. No kudos here. All ways empty big bin of 30 gallon pail. Huuu shiiiii
Kasha Legeza January 23, 2012 at 02:01 AM
On a similar note, I noticed today while driving to Acme that the sidewalk running behind the Kent State Music and Speech building on SR 59 had not been shoveled, nor had many business sidewalks along that stretch of road ...
* January 23, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Being able to travel by foot is a true perk of dealing with the close quarters of city living. For the past 10 years I've traveled this route by foot on a regular basis (we all have to eat and as there is only one full grocery in town, so Acme here I come!). Over the years I've learned to alter my path after any "snow parking ban" inducing snowfall, but there is always added time which sometimes I just do not have (*sigh*). Not only are the sidewalks not shoveled for the most part (on either side of the busy 35mph St. Rt. 59), but the sidewalks are so close to the street that the snow plow has no choice but to push loads of heavy, dirty snow onto the designated pedestrian walkway. The normal snowfall along with the snow from the plows makes that entire stretch a real pain in the butt to traverse by foot.
Jack Kelly January 23, 2012 at 03:47 PM
LOL I was thinking the same thing. Post the video for a little public humiliation. Blackout/blur license plates, but leave the rest of the video unedited. People would be dropping names pretty quickly. And good. Morons like that deserve to be humiliated.
Jack Kelly January 23, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Uhh...you've been warned before by other administrators of local Patch's to use your REAL name. We're grown up's here who don't hide behind some stupid alias like a coward. Perhaps you should learn how to read because your alias is against TOS.
Jack Kelly January 23, 2012 at 03:52 PM
You should be able to, at least, view them via a public records request. Which would have to be done during normal business hours.
Michael Pacifico January 24, 2012 at 07:01 PM
I am assuming that the indivdual who loaded a truck full of salt committed a crime, since the rational for not following up was that it would cost more to prosecute than the cost of the salt taken. Am I to assume that the city of Kent only prosecutes only if it is economically lucrative? I find this reasoning very disturbing.
Kasha Legeza January 25, 2012 at 09:46 PM
City Manager Dave Ruller wrote about the program's suspension in his Kent 360 blog this week: http://www.kent360.com/7018-salt-program-suspended.html.

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