BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI North Country This Week MASSENA -- It may be a distant thought for residents but village trustees and the Department of Public Works are working on plans for spring cleanup. During …
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
MASSENA -- It may be a distant thought for residents but village trustees and the Department of Public Works are working on plans for spring cleanup.
During the village board meeting held Nov. 20, DPW Superintendent Marty Miller and village trustees discussed implementing a pickup system during spring cleanup, one that has not been used in years.
The idea has been kicking around for a few months now but trustees appear poised to take action in the near future, possibly changing spring cleanup from a two-week window to a multi-month period that would allow residents to schedule an appointment for a pickup.
Dates would be available based on zones that would be established around the village, allowing DPW workers to clean up specific sections of the village over set periods of time.
Trustee Ken McGowan has been a supporter of the modified system, saying the broad window would make it easier for residents and crews alike to clean up around the village.
McGowan has suggested using vouchers as they are used now but to allow residents more time to use them.
Landlords would still have the same two-week window in May to participate as they currently do, McGowan said.
If the village were to institute the plan, McGowan said it would cut down on people illegally bringing in items to be disposed of in the village. The village would still require payment to remove mattresses and more than four tires, he said.
Other materials like commercial building materials and hazmat products would also not be eligible to be disposed of during the cleanup period.
Miller has told trustees that he has spoken to DPW superintendents in other municipalities about similar programs. The possible plan that may be implemented in Massena would likely be modeled after those used in Plattsburgh and Watertown, Miller said.
The proposed plan would also allow residents to plan accordingly for pickups while ensuring that waste and items to dispose of would not be left at the curb for days or weeks on end while awaiting pickup.
According to Miller, the village would likely be divided into four zones and residents would be notified of pickup windows so they could schedule an appointment that would work for them.
Village Administrator Monique Chatland asked if the operation would save the village money or be an added expense to the village due to overtime expenses.
Miller said the plan would be to have DPW crews handle the work during normal shift work.
"There's going to be a cost savings, I mean, like I said, our guys would get done with garbage pickup and they go back and just keep driving the streets picking up yard waste or brush or whatever. So, I guess you're paying the guys for eight hours a day, I guess they're just going to keep making the rounds for two hours. I'm just saying you're going to keep making the rounds. They're being paid for that anyway," Miller said.
Chatland also suggested doing spring cleanup at the same time as the town of Massena, noting that village residents are also part of the town.
"Why don't we participate in the town spring cleanup? We're residents of the town too. I don't know...in all honesty, if we're paying taxes on that. We should be able to utilize it in my opinion," she said.
According to Chatland, some residents have said they do not like the current system that was implemented as a cost saving measure when staffing levels declined with DPW.
Some residents also said they did not have access to pickup trucks or trailers to haul anything by themselves, saying the previous pickup system worked much better for them.
When discussing whether commercial property owners could utilize the same system, Chatland also posed the question as it relates to regular trash pickups.
"I'm just playing devil's advocate but if they are paying for garbage pickup all year, just like a resident is, if they're paying monthly, why wouldn't they be able to utilize the service as a commercial (owner)? I'm just playing devil's advocate," Chatland said.
McGowan and Miller both said at a certain point the program would be a burden to DPW staff and would likely cost taxpayers more money in the end, likely due to overtime expenses.
Miller also said the logistics of taking appointments, scheduling the pickups and ensuring they are completed on time will take a significant amount of coordination, communication and time to complete.
In the event that the program were to be expanded or additional pickups could be made, Mayor Greg Paquin said it may be something that has to be paid for in the future.
Paquin said in some municipalities like Watertown, residents pay fees for similar cleanup programs, though he said the board hopes the day does not come that they have to charge for the service.
"There are other communities that still do provide the service but there is a charge. I think it's a great idea right now and all," he said.
Paquin also suggested that the cleanup being considered may be something used every other year to ensure it remains a service taxpayers do not have to pay extra for.
Whatever the board decides, Miller said a new system like the one being posed would be a learning curve for everyone involved, from DPW staff to village residents.
"We'll all learn together, it's all different for all of us and it's going to take time to adjust," Miller said.