By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA -- The village board is looking at changing the way they handle spring cleanup day.
Mayor James Hidy said this year’s tab ran at $71,377. He believes they are being taken advantage of by landlords who accumulate refuse left behind by tenants and save it for cleanup day rather than taking it right to the dump.
“It’s my opinion we’ve become a service to landlords,” he said. “You’ve got a dwelling with two apartments in it and there’s 50 mattresses, five or six TVs, tires … a mound to where you can’t even see the house.”
“It’s the same spots year after year and it’s getting out of hand,” Trustee Albert “Herb” Deshaies said.
Trustee Francis Carvel noted that local junk pickers will often scavenge items, such as TVs, from around town take working parts and discard the rest, which can lead to what Hidy saw.
“They get what they want and they put it back out,” Carvel said.
Part of the price, Hidy noted, is water weight because water-absorbent items sat in heavy rain for several days before it was collected.
During a public comment period, village resident Shawn Gray suggested they only items that will absorb a lot of rain to be put out the day before pick up.
Deshaies suggested they eliminate village collection altogether and allow residents to haul their own waste to the dump.
Carvel said he thinks stopping the service outright would cause more problems than it would solve.
“My only question is where is it going to end up?” he said, adding that the answer is most likely desolate side roads and at the back of property lines. He said he recalls before the village collected unwanted items, landowners would put things like old water heaters at the back of their land and there it would sit.
“You’re going to have that again … people are not going to take it to the dump,” according to Carvel.
He theorized that a lot of the piles are low-income residents “who live on six-month increments.” This means they get something cheap or free with a short lifespan and replace it when it breaks with something of comparable quality.
Village resident Joel Gray suggested that they make regular cleanup days each month. His idea involved setting up collection points where residents pay a small fee and turn in their refuse.
“It allows the village to recuperate a little and puts the responsibility on the people and it’s throughout the year,” he said.