Carroll County's buried treasure

July 18, 1994

Some of Carroll County's better minds have been at work attempting to develop attractions to bring tourists to the county. They have studied all the traditional draws, such as the Farm Museum and the Wine Festival, and possible future attractions such as an air show. What they really ought to focus on is the tourism potential of the county landfill.

Once again the county commissioners are exploring the possibility of turning over a section of the landfill to scavengers. Think of the vast numbers of people who would flock to Carroll County to have the opportunity to pick over garbage piles. People interested in getting up close and personal with garbage now have to travel all the way to the fetid dumps of Mexico City. Think of hundreds of thousands of American tourists eager to travel to Carroll County to have a Third World experience without leaving the U.S.A.

One proposal on the table calls for establishing a Saturday flea market at the dump where people could exchange or even purchase garbage. This would be the purest manifestation of the slogan that many haulers paint on the sides of their trucks: "Your garbage is my treasure." Instead of burying old light fixtures, doors and windows, people could exchange them for broken televisions, radios and bicycles.

Creating this type of exchange would probably be akin to creating free market economies in the former socialist states. Entirely new consumption patterns could be developed. Instead of going to Lowe's or 84 Lumber to purchase building materials, Carroll County residents would be able to hang around the landfill for deliveries of fresh construction debris.

In this time of family disintegration, regular outings to the landfill could become bonding experiences. Parents could instruct children on the fine points of sifting through rubbish much in the same fashion that parents instruct kids on beachcombing techniques. Kids could learn skills like recognizing valuable debris amid all the common garbage.

If this landfill flea market takes off, it could operate six days a week. With the large crowds expected, food concessions and souvenir stands would be needed.

Think of the potential for job creation. With the right kind of promotion, Carroll County's landfill could become the engine that drives the county's economic development efforts.

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