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Trucked-in trash

For the past week, the "trash pickup" outside John Addington's office in Medford hasn't been the type he'd like to see.

Since Saturday, an abandoned 1985 Ford pickup loaded with trash has lingered outside ABS Auto Auctions at the corner of Maple Street near Riverside Avenue. Next to it sits a 2003 Mitsubishi brimmed with broken furniture, electronics and dirty wet sheets through a broken-out window.

Getting the vehicles removed has been an uphill battle, according to branch manager Marilyn Constable. She left Medford Code Enforcement a voice message Monday, heard no response and tried again Wednesday.

"That's when I got the message that the mailbox is full, goodbye," Constable said.

Medford police Cpl. Tom Venables, who oversees code enforcement within the city, said that the lack of communication Constable experienced isn't the customer service he wants people to have, but said the roughly three-day wait before the two vehicles were tagged is within normal turnaround times.

"We try to prioritize as best we can," Venables said.

The department is down a person on family leave until this summer, Venables said. The remaining two officers each have roughly 200 cases open at any given time, making same-day response unlikely.

"In an eight-hour day, you're not doing 200," Venables said.

A code enforcement officer determined there was no public health or safety threat from the vehicles, Venables said. Such a nuisance gets prioritized lower than public health hazards, such as those that attract insects and vermin.  

For Addington, the longer the blighted vehicles sat, the more nearby trash mounds grew. A rusted-out air compressor, two shopping carts and a sopping wet rug appeared Thursday morning next to the beat-up Ford. 

"Welcome to Alice's Restaurant," Addington joked, referencing the 1967 Arlo Guthrie song. Addington said that dumpers seem to be thinking along the same lines as Guthrie, believing "one big pile is better than two little piles."

Addington said he'd already filled the business' one-yard Dumpster with trash found earlier in the week.

The vehicles were tagged for removal Thursday, according to Venables, and are able to be removed in 24 hours.

Venables said there's typically a delay before cars are impounded because code enforcement makes efforts to notify registered owners, but the vehicles on Maple would be removed sooner because of their condition and because their long-expired registration shows them to be abandoned.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCremeBeat.

John Addington, district manager of ABS Auto Auctions in Medford, is frustrated that the city has not removed abandoned cars outside his business near the intersection of Maple Street and Riverside Avenue. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch]