By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — City Councilors continue to work on an ordinance designed to rid the city of abandoned shopping carts.
A rough draft of the ordinance, originally proposed by Ward 4 Councilor Jerry Ryan, would give the city the power to collect abandoned shopping carts and charge stores a per-cart fee to get them back.
The idea, modeled after a city ordinance in Revere, is meant to spur businesses to collect carts from the city instead of buying new ones, or collect carts on their own before the city does.
Last night, several councilors said abandoned shopping carts are a problem in their wards. However, several took issue with the idea of charging stores to reclaim what is essentially stolen property.
“I agree that it’s not the supermarkets’ fault that someone’s taking their carts, but something needs to be done,” said Ward 3 Councilor Todd Siegel.
Siegel said he often calls local stores about abandoned carts in his neighborhood, but receives no response. He said he rounded up and returned four carts last week that hadn’t been moved in four or five days.
Last night, city councilors discussed Ryan’s proposed ordinance but took no action. The issue will remain in a council subcommittee, while Siegel works with the city’s attorney and Jim Crosby, owner of a local grocery chain, to revise the proposal.
The rough draft of the ordinance calls for public works personnel to collect any shopping cart abandoned on public property for more than 24 hours. Businesses could “redeem” the carts by paying the city’s costs for removal and storage — a maximum of $25 per cart.
Last night, Crosby said he felt stores should be contacted before the city issues a fine.
“I don’t have a problem with the concept; I just don’t want to be charged (without notice),” Crosby said. “... Fining (a store) $25 is not terribly appropriate.”
Crosby said shopping carts cost roughly $100 each. Crosby’s has markets on Canal Street in Salem, as well as in Hamilton, Georgetown, Marblehead, Manchester and Concord.
“I’m not in favor of you getting fined at all,” Councilor Michael Sosnowski said to Crosby. “I think we’re looking at the wrong person here (to punish).”
Ryan, the council president, proposed the ordinance last year after receiving complaints about shopping carts abandoned in his ward, which is near the Stop & Shop supermarket on the Peabody/Salem border.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.