HAMMOND | A proposed ban on scavenging in the city faced criticism at Monday's City Council meeting from individuals contending they scrap to support their families.
The City Council will hold a public hearing July 23 on a proposed ordinance that would end a city-issued license permitting the collection of scrap and recyclable material in streets and alleys.
The ordinance's sponsor, City Councilman Mark Kalwinski, D-1st, said he's heard reports of scavengers ripping up couches for the metal and leaving the rubble in alleys. He said streets and sanitation workers then have to move the rubble to access the alley or take additional time to pick up the strewn material.
Kalwinski said he's also heard complaints of scavengers going onto private property.
“We're trying to raise the quality of life here, and we're trying to bring in people that have a certain level of expectation about what their neighborhood should be and not be,” Kalwinski said. “I've never heard anyone describe they want a scrapper as part of what comes with a neighborhood.”
Warren Potter, who has an active scrapping license in Hammond, said such a ban would take away his job.
“There's no jobs really out there to get,” Potter said. “It's going to be real tough for a lot of people.”
Fellow scrapper Edwardo Colon told council members the city shouldn't penalize scrappers following the rules.
“I feel that we should not be punished,” Colon said. “If anything, scavenging should stay here in Hammond because we are helping the environment.”
Under the proposed ordinance, the more than 30 individuals who are currently licensed in Hammond can continue to scrap until Dec. 31.
City Councilman Bob Markovich, D-at large, called for the public hearing, arguing the ban was a bad ordinance.
“If this helps some people put food on the table for their kids ... we're hurting them,” Markovich said.