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Select Board Hears Feedback on New Trash Pick-Up Program

by Matt Ristaino
September 10, 2019

The trash barrels are too small and oddly shaped. Small businesses should be included in the trash pick-up program. If the new service is more efficient, why does it still take all week to service the town?

This was some of the feedback and questions presented to the Select Board at its meeting on Monday, when the public was invited to discuss the new trash and recycling service, provided by E.L. Harvey, that began in July.

The most prominent issue with the new system is the size and shape of the new 35 gallon trash barrels. Many of the citizens who spoke at the meeting said they had difficulty fitting all of their trash into the barrel every week.

“I believe it was a mistake to go to the 35-gallon cart,” said former Board member Jay Leary. “What we bought does not meet the needs of the town.”

Will Schwartz said that his family of four struggles to get all their trash to fit into the new barrels, especially because of the diapers his young children use. 

“Encouraging recycling is good, but it doesn’t help if your trash [such as diapers] can’t be recycled,” he said. 

Will Schwartz was one of several residents who had issues with the size of the new trash barrels.

About half a dozen other residents shared similar concerns with the Board as well. 

However, not everyone is struggling with the new system. Mike Lavin, chair of the Sustainable Waste Management and Recycling Committee, said that his committee recently conducted a trash audit and observed that roughly 90 percent of households in town weren’t using extra trash bags. Select Board member Tina Hein said that the trash sticker sales since the new program in July have not increased significantly.

Jay Leary responded to those numbers by saying that summer is not a good time to get accurate data because many people are away from home for significant periods of time. 

Former Board member Jay Leary had multiple issues with the new trash pick-up program.

The Board said that they are discussing the possibility of allowing residents to purchase an additional trash barrel, which they believe is the most practical solution. However, residents would have to pay a yearly fee for the extra trash to be picked up, in addition to the up-front cost of a new barrel. In the end, it may end up being cheaper for residents to simply buy the $2 trash stickers that are currently being offered. 

The Town is exploring other options for reducing the amount of trash residents generate. Lavin proposed town-wide textile recycling and composting services be introduced. The Board agreed that this would be a good idea, but wanted to know more information before taking any action.

The Board also indicated that it will work to include small business and condo residents in the program. Board member John Cronin said that he strongly feels that they should be included because they pay taxes, just like residents.

Town Administrator Jeff Ritter estimated that it would cost the town about $133,000 to include all of the condo units on public roadways, and about $54,000 to include most of the small businesses. He emphasized that these numbers are rough estimates, and could end up being significantly higher or lower. 

Cronin said that the Board will work with Town Counsel Jay Talerman to establish a downtown business district, where businesses will be able to opt-in to the trash program if they wish. He also said the Board will reach out to the largest condo associations in town to gauge their interest in opting-in to the program. 

While all of this takes time, Cronin emphasized the need to make progress quickly. The best case scenario would be getting approval to amend the contract with E.L. Harvey at fall Town Meeting in October, and hopefully starting these new services in the following couple of months. 

“It’s time to reckon with the improvements that are staring back at us,” Cronin said.

 

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Comments (3)

I am disappointed I was not able to make the meeting. My issue has not been so much with the small trash bin, but rather the limitations on Recycling. We went from unlimited recycling to having to shove it all in one closed bin. Cutting and folding cardboard to fit in and not waste half the bin is a huge pain.

- AJ Boucher | 9/10/19 1:10 PM

The current system works for me, but there's only two of us - a family of four or five should be able to use a larger barrel for trash or get a second barrel - let's think before we penalize people

- Lee DeSorgher | 9/10/19 1:04 PM

Easy solution: Amend the contract to switch which barrel is for trash and which is for recycling.

- Stephen Nault | 9/10/19 8:49 AM

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