By ANDY GARDNER
MASSENA — The mayor wants to eliminate curbside spring junk pickup and most of the village trustees said they are in favor of changing the current process.
At Tuesday’s village board meeting, Mayor Tim Currier said he still wants to help out residents with disposing of large items not usually taken as garbage, but the current annual pickup day isn’t working.
The mayor said one possibility could be to “modify spring cleanup to eliminate curbside pickup and go to a period of time when residents can bring their junk to the landfill.”
Highway Department Superintendent Hassan Fayad said this year’s cleanup was heavier and costlier than last year. He attributed that to heavy rain the second week of cleanup and increased tipping fees at the county transfer station.
DPW crews picked up 300.73 tons this year at a cost of around $78,000. Last year, they picked up 256 tons for about $62,000, Fayad said.
In addition to the tipping fees, they are also paying out a little over 1,000 hours in wages to the crews on pickup detail.
Currier said if the village set aside days where people could dispose of waste at no charge, that would free up the DPW to do maintenance.
“We don’t often have time to do maintenance on systems … we could use those two weeks for proactive work,” he said, citing things like sewer and water systems. “We could get other work done we’re not able to get to and make sure we’re not impacting taxpayers.”
The change would also be more favorable to businesses who produce a lot of waste and hire a garbage contractor. They still pay for increases in the cost of the annual cleanup, despite not having a village garbage account, Currier said.
Three of the four trustees said they think a change is needed.
Trustee Tim Ahlfeld said he agreed with the mayor and thought maybe they could exclude multi-unit dwellings.
“I agree with you Tim, there is something that can be done. Maybe we say we’re not going to pick it up at multi-unit dwellings,” Ahlfeld said. “Can we legally do that?”
Village attorney Matthew McArdle said they may be able to get away with it, if they decided to go that way.
Ahlfeld later came back to his comment and said he wasn’t trying to “single anyone out” with his notion.
“The one thing with multi-unit dwellings is typically if someone is renting the property, they pay a deposit … He or she (landlord) has to take care of the mess you (tenant) left. That’s kind of where I was headed down the track. I was trying to be careful with multi-unit dwellings. I wasn’t trying to single anybody out. I’m sure there’s a better way to do it,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Matt Lebire said he supported a change but didn’t agree with Ahlfeld.
“There’s a lot of multi-unit dwellings that aren’t abusing it,” Lebire said. “That is a service a lot of people depend on.
“I would personally probably not have a problem with eliminating the rest.”
Trustee Frank Carvel said he thinks some residents are getting away with too much at the expense of those who dispose of little by comparison.
“Over the years, it’s the same places year after year after year. It seems it’s rental properties and where this stuff comes from I have no idea. It’s time for a change.” “What we’re doing now is not working. We’re no longer helping the little old lady, the retired person. They’re not putting anything out," Carvel said. “You’ve got the same houses that have got the length of the property … where does it come from?
“Why should I, who puts out a couple items, pay the same as someone who puts out two village dumptruck loads?"
Trustee Albert “Herb” Deshaies said he thinks the current system goes a long way toward the community’s appearance and he believes people would let junk pile up in their backyards if curbside pickup ceased.
“It’s money well-spent as far as I’m concerned. It’s enough of a pigpen as it is. Can’t even get people to paint their houses,” he said.
He thinks the police should aggressively target people who violate the dumping laws by bringing in refuse from out of town and their arrests should be published in the local press.
“Personally the way I look at it … you make a law, arrest somebody, put them in the paper, publicize it, that’s going to put people off,” he said. “They’re going to put it (refuse) in the backyard.”
Currier said the appearance issue is one of his reasons for proposing changing the local law.
“I’ve grown very frustrated by the abuses and the way this community looks during that two-week period,” Currier said.
A village resident speaking during public comment at the end of the meeting said he thinks the village pursuing a public education campaign could solve many of the problems.
“I wholeheartedly agree something needs to be done, but a simple thing nobody mentioned was education,” said Joel Greig, who unsuccessfully ran for a village trustee seat last year. “I encourage, when it came to ‘recyclegate,’ how much I learned last year.”
By “recyclegate,” he was referring to when the village suddenly was strictly enforcing recycle code. Many locals in mid-summer last year had bags of mixed garbage and recyclables left at the curbside on garbage days for violating the code. Village officials afterward got information out through local press telling people what would and wouldn’t be acceptable. As a result, recycling tonnage went up.
“Just a simple education program, recycle, what can go out, what can go out. I don’t think people here in the village know what garbage costs,” Greig said. “If the village stops picking this up, you’re going to hear ‘I’m paying more taxes, but getting less service.’”