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Alleys have allies for old ugly sheds

Spring cleanup starts in early April, so there’s plenty of time to get in that “great old ugly shed” and find room for some the stuff rusting in the “resource pile.”

What about doing a column about the great old ugly sheds in the alleys around West Second and West Third avenues? They seem to be jam-packed with old stuff. It would be nice to have some photos and maybe a contest. We frequently walk the alleys. It’s a great way to discover the real Durango. Many residents also have “resource piles.” As for Durango having “blight” – nope. Blight is a corn disease in Iowa. – Marilyn and Rich

This is an only-in-Durango moment – when residents actually admire all the “great old” sheds in town and make envious glances at backyard detritus.

Apparently, “Durango” is an old Anasazi word meaning “place where broken, worthless things are stored.”

Ironically, Durango spent many years and a lot of money trying to encourage residents to declutter their lives.

Let’s “toss out” an example: the city’s spring and fall cleanups.

Decades ago, the city was heaping mad about residents dumping garbage, debris, soiled mattresses, yard waste and whatnot in the alleys.

Seriously. People would just haul their junk down the side street, dump it and then drive off as if “that’s just what we do around these parts.”

Signs were posted. Laws were passed. But that didn’t stop the litterbugs.

Rather than fight it, the city “wasted” no time in organizing a block-by-block cleanup in spring and fall.

Spring cleanup starts in early April, so there’s plenty of time to get in that “great old ugly shed” and find room for some of the stuff rusting in the “resource pile.”

That applies to Action Line, who doesn’t have an ugly old shed.

The shed was torn down several years ago. In its place stands a roomy new garage.

Which means there’s a ton more room for storing stuff, much to Mrs. Action Line’s non-amusement.

Mrs. Action Line is neat and tidy. The garage? Um, not so much.

So Mrs. Action Line has made it unmistakably clear that there will be a sale this spring.

Make that a purge.

Oh, and plans to construct a shed have been canceled.

A shed would just become overflow storage for the garage.

So here’s the interesting thing about the word “shed.”

When used as a noun, “shed” means a storage facility.

But when “shed” is used as a verb, it means to cast off or get rid of.

Why do we have the same word for the place to put stuff we don’t use or the act of getting rid of stuff we don’t want?

Maybe someone could shed some light on that.

In any case, Durango has an inglorious legacy of inhospitable waste disposal.

Just ask an old-timer about the shantytown in the place we now call Santa Rita Park.

It was standard operating procedure to dump trash on the streets of that makeshift Hispanic community along the river.

No one is shedding tears in recalling those bad old days.

Still, with all the old storage structures around town, it keeps the Snowdown Sneer’s “Unreal Estate” section filled with executive retreats, cozy bungalows and fixer-uppers.

When it comes to historic storage structures, Durango has a blight future.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if your shed has a lean-to next to a pile of stuff covered with a blue tarp.

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