By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM, Mass. — City workers may soon be rounding up shopping carts left abandoned throughout the city. If the store or market wants their carts back, they’ll have to pay a fee of up to $25 per cart.
The idea — modeled after a city ordinance in Revere — is being considered by the City Council.
Council President Jerry Ryan proposed the ordinance after receiving complaints about shopping carts abandoned in his ward, which is near the Stop & Shop supermarket on the Peabody/Salem border.
It’s a problem throughout the city, he said.
People use the carts to transport items or collect cans or metal scraps, only to abandon them. Ryan said he’s seen carts left in the same spot for weeks before being moved or claimed.
“It’s not (the store’s) fault that people are taking them, but it’s becoming a problem,” Ryan said.
Bob Vello, general manager of Crosby’s Marketplace on Canal Street, said his store periodically hires a retrieval service to collect carts. The truck usually comes back with 15 or 20 carts per month.
“It is a problem. They do leave the store quite often, that’s for sure,” Vello said. “... In the course of a year, we probably lose 50 to 60 carts, and we end up buying more because they never get returned.”
The City Council voted 11-0 last week to approve first passage of the shopping cart ordinance. It won’t take effect until the board votes on final approval at their next meeting on Feb. 28.
The measure would add a section to a city ordinance to allow public works personnel to collect any shopping cart left 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.
The city could scrap or sell any cart not redeemed within 30 days. The ordinance also requires city businesses to label their carts with a “distinguishing mark” to identify which store they belong to.
It’s 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, Ryan said.
“The main thing is to get them off the street,” he said.
Although Vello agreed abandoned carts are a problem, the $25-per-cart fee is a little steep.
“We always try to do what’s right for the city and town,” Vello said. “It would be nice if we could work together (with the city) ... rather than have them charge us.
“We want them in the store. We surely don’t want them on the street, (but) it’s difficult to control that,” he said.
Ryan proposed the shopping cart ordinance last fall. It was discussed in the council’s Subcommittee on Ordinances, Licenses and Legal Affairs, which recommended approval of the ordinance to the full council on Thursday.
Bethany Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.