OCEAN CITY – Ocean City officials discussed a proposal this week to implement painted trashcans on the town’s beaches.
In a Coastal Resources Legislative Committee (Green Team) meeting Wednesday, Councilman Tony DeLuca introduced the concept of artistic trashcans.
The idea, he said, is to beatify the beaches with decorative and scenic containers that will ultimately incentivize visitors to keep the beaches clean.
“I think it has application, and I wanted to bring it to the Green Team for a next step,” he said.
The inspiration for DeLuca’s proposal comes from Bobby and Nikki Freeman, Florida Realtors who began the non-profit program “Creative Cans in the Sand.”
The program, located in Cocoa Beach, Fla., is a joint effort among artists, schools and businesses to decorate and sponsor the trashcans.
“As I read this, I said, ‘This is us,’” DeLuca told members. “This is Adopt Your Beach. This is Adopt Your Street.”
Sandi Smith of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) said the program is similar to an environmental certification project that students at Berlin Intermediate School completed. Students and volunteers were tasked with painting and decorating donated containers in an effort to create rain barrels. The cans were then sold to community members for rain collection. The three-year program ultimately recycled 300 containers.
Liz Vander Clute, education coordinator for MCBP, told DeLuca that the Green Team could also approach the Ocean City Development Corporation, which decorated a series of utility boxes to beautify downtown.
Officials with MCBP told DeLuca volunteers, interns or students could complete the projects, but transportation and paint materials would have to be a consideration.
“There is a process behind it,” Smith said. “The reason why the paint stays on the Berlin barrels is because you have to sand them down. The paint sticks to it better. Then after it is painted, we went ahead and clear coated it for them. So the kids were using non-toxic paint.”
DeLuca continued to draw parallels to Cocoa Beach’s trashcan program, saying businesses and artists could also paint and sponsor the trashcans.
“Everything that I read about this kind of fit Ocean City,” he said. “I thought that before I took it to the Art League or before I took it to Public Works, I’d bring it here first. I think it beautifies the beaches. I think it’s creative.”
Gail Blazer, environmental engineer for Ocean City, addressed concerns about the durability and longevity of the painted trashcans, which will be exposed to elements such as sand, saltwater and potential Nor’easters.
“We don’t have any receptacles out on the beach in the winter time,” she said. “If these are out year round, how will they be?”
DeLuca said this question also posed another issue, which was brought to his attention on New Year’s Day.
“It was beautiful that day if you remember,” he said. “The beach had people all over it and no trashcans.”
Smith retorted that leaving the trashcans out through the winter allows seagulls to rummage the containers and litter the beaches.
“The town has researched in the past how to get a cover on there and the problem was the expense of getting equipment that can empty those containers that have the covers on them,” Smith said.
Blazer said that was a question for Public Works to address when DeLuca brings ideas for the trashcans to their attention.
“That is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I want to just go over it with the Green Team before I do anything else. I want to take it to Public Works.”