The Salem City Council did the wise thing last week in delaying the approval of an ordinance that would essentially charge stores to retrieve their stolen, then abandoned, shopping carts. The move gives business owners themselves a chance to weigh in on the proposal.
That’s not to criticize the plan put forward by Council President Jerry Ryan after hearing complaints about shopping carts abandoned in his ward, which is near the Stop & Shop supermarket on the Peabody border. Ryan and the council are on the right track in attempting to tackle one of the small, but annoying, quality-of-life issues that dog communities everywhere.
People often use a store’s shopping cart to carry their groceries out of the lot, or to collect cans or metal scraps, only to abandon them far from the property. It’s a year-round problem that seems worse this time of year, when plowed-over carts start poking through melting snow piles.
The proposal before the council would have DPW workers collect any shopping carts left on public property for more than a day. Businesses could get the carts back by paying the city a $25-per-cart storage fee.
However, Crosby’s Markets owner Jim Crosby last week noted the ordinance would essentially punish stores twice; they lose their property when someone rolls off the lot with it, and they lose money buying it back from the city. Last month, a Crosby’s representative noted that the company regularly hires a service to retrieve its carts from city streets, bringing back 15 to 20 a month. So an effort is being made.
Credit Ryan and his fellow councilors for deciding to make Crosby’s and other stores partners in solving the problem.