MONTICELLO, NY — There’s the stuff you can put in a bag, which gets picked up in litterplucks.
And then there are mattresses and tires.
At Thursday’s public works meeting, legislators and public works commissioner Ed McAndrew discussed what can be done about the mess that people leave behind on the roadways and the volunteer efforts of residents picking it up.
The question, among others, is whether or not the county can afford to collect all litterpluck garbage from the towns, especially the big stuff.
“The truth of the matter,” said committee chair Joe Perrello, “is that we all live here; we all want to see clean roads, and if somebody is out there doing the work for nothing, we ought to accept the garbage. It’s that simple.”
“But Joe,” said legislator Nadia Rajsz, a former town supervisor, “people are dumping tires and mattresses. What do they do with that, take it home?”
Maybe accept all the trash for a month?
“You’re encouraging people to dump on the side of the road,” legislative chair Rob Doherty said.
“They’re doing it already,” legislator Luis Alvarez said.
Maybe just a weekend, legislator Mike Brooks proposed.
“We do have spring clean-up in the towns,” said Rajsz, “but we still can’t bring our tires… we still can’t bring construction debris that we find on the roadside.”
Adopt-a-Road accepts those things, McAndrew said. “Some of these roads are well beyond that, I agree with you.”
“We just have to account for that,” said McAndrew. “That can get expensive. Us accepting it is fine, but then we do have to pay $78 to $80 [per] ton or so.”
Could the county handle a few thousand dollars worth of trash? Would it be more? Are Sullivan litterbugs capable of generating that much garbage? (Never mind. Don’t answer that.)
“We live here,” Perrello said. “What’s the difference?”
Legislator Ira Steingart suggested a two-weekend campaign to focus on cleaning up the county before the summer arrives.
“I’ve used the county transfer station a number of times,” said legislator Alan Sorensen. “It takes a lot of materials to come up with a ton of debris (a pick-up load runs about $20 or $30, he said). “So the fact that people are dumping things on the roadside is that they’re slobs and they really don’t care about their community. It has nothing to do with the cost; it’s very inexpensive to take waste to the transfer station.”
“There are a lot of roadsides that are absolutely a mess… you don’t want to encourage people to dump,” said Brooks. “We’ll be doing this just to clean up because it’s a shame, it’s a statement on people who do dump.” Just because nobody’s there to police the roadsides, doesn’t mean it’s OK to dump your garbage, he said. “I find it a sad statement on what we are. People feel they can just dump and dump.”