Breaking news: Southborough’s Swap Shop to close for good on December 1

by susan on November 22, 2011

A Southborough institution is closing its doors. I’m not talking about the Spa, or the Southborough House of Pizza, or Fitzgerald’s store. I’m talking about the Swap Shop.

DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan announced at tonight’s Board of Selectmen meeting that the shed at the Transfer Station where resident leave items they no longer need and search for new treasures left by others, will close for good on December 1. She said she made the decision because the Swap Shop is routinely being abused.

In a memo to Selectmen, Galligan said residents will camp out in front of the Swap Shop for hours on end, causing traffic issues at the adjacent recycling area. “The same group of 20 to 40 people either park at the Swap Shop for hours or visit the Swap Shop 3 to 8 times a day. The residents box out other residents from getting the ‘good stuff,’ they grab items from residents before they even make it into the Swap Shop and they take over the platform in the area of the Swap Shop,” Galligan wrote.

Those trolling the Swap Shop for hours are often looking for items to sell on eBay or at flea markets. “This was not the intent of the Swap Shop,” Galligan said in her memo.

Galligan also told selectmen much of what’s left at the Swap Shop is trash that really belongs in the hopper, or not at the Transfer Station at all. She said residents will leave broken TVs “when someone isn’t looking” which the town then has to pay to dispose of properly.

Police Chief Jane Moran said she spent years patrolling the Transfer Station and the Swap Shop. “I would watch DPW employees go back and forth taking loads of stuff to the hopper because it’s just junk,” she told selectmen. “Is it fiscally responsible to burden the Transfer Station employees with cleaning up people’s trash?”

Galligan said enforcing Transfer Station rules – at the Swap Shop and elsewhere – often turns confrontational, with residents intimidating, yelling at, and even spitting on employees.

“We ask people to leave (the Swap Shop), and they don’t…Should we call police? It’s a waste of their time,” Galligan said.

Moran agreed enforcement is a problem. “We can’t station an officer down there,” she said.

Selectmen discussed citing those who abuse the system or revoking their Transfer Station stickers, but ultimately rejected the idea and unanimously supported Galligan’s decision to close the shop.

“There is strong evidence that (the Swap Shop) is being abused, and DPW officials doing their good work are being abused too,” Kolenda said.

I asked Boland after the meeting if this was a case of a few bad apples ruining it for the majority. “Yes, but it’s more than just a few,” he said.

The decision to close the Swap Shop already has residents riled up. “The swap shop should remain open. The abuse is minimal. Let the community staff and police those who take advantage. So many of us have contributed and/or acquired many items. Leave it alone!!” one resident posted on the My Southborough Facebook page.

Some commenting on Facebook worried that closing the Swap Shop would be a setback to the town’s recycling efforts, but Galligan said because much of what is left there ends up in the hopper anyway, she doesn’t expect a significant increase in the amount of trash handled at the facility.

Galligan said instead of using the Swap Shop, residents can donate their items to organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister which will come to your house to pick up donations.

If the reaction on Facebook and Twitter is any indication, this one is going to be a hot topic here on the blog. So, please have at it and share your thoughts in the comments. Are you sad to see the Swap Shop go? Were you surprised by the decision? Or are you just glad you’ll be able to get to the recycling area at 5:00 on a Saturday afternoon?

1 nancy November 22, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Oh man – my kids are going to be so bummed!!!!!!!!! We have gotten great things there, scooters, bikes, barbie jeeps, etc……and they have learned to leave stuff if they want to take stuff. My husband has often said though that people leave stuff that they should just throw away.

2 Lisa November 22, 2011 at 10:44 PM

I have to agree that there is a problem. There are so many times I want to leave something perfectly fine that my family doesn’t use anymore but I often don’t because of the people who camp out there to sell items they find. I have been donating these items to churches and other charities instead. Like always, a few people have to ruin it for everyone! Goodbye to the lines at the recycling area :)

3 Rachel November 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM

I agree that there is some junk that gets put in there that should be thrown away, but for the majority a lot of great stuff can be found there. I know that the stuff that I leave I try to make sure is clean, in working condition, and useful.

I love the swap for many reasons. My kids understand that they need to leave something if they plan on taking something. They also know that they donate toys that they no longer play with anymore.

My main concern is the cost of stickers. DPW claims that most everything left in the swap is junk, but it’s just what’s left.

I’m not sure why the people abusing just can’t be revoked of their sticker. They should have to use an outside company to take their trash. It’s the price they pay for abusing the swap.

4 Beth November 22, 2011 at 11:17 PM

I am saddened by this news. I had no idea that such abuse was occurring. The swap shop has become a regular part of our Saturday on many a weekend. The swap shop made it so easy to reduce, reuse and recycle. My children have learned that there is still a lot of life left in toys after one family has outgrown them. We will truly miss it. Is this decision final? Or is there anything we can do to change it?

5 Jim November 22, 2011 at 11:32 PM

Who are they to close our shed? it’s our town, we pay taxes and dump fees, if we want the shed we should have it. How does it cost the town more to have the employees dump the leftovers in the hopper, they work at the dump….so now they will have less to do but will make the same pay? I don’t care if some waste the weekend picking at the shed, thats what they want to do. We all get and give good items from the shed so the system works, its not a police issue its a matter of letting people be and having a place to recycle usable goods. The Towns People should not stand for this.

6 Bob Michalik November 23, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Jim,
I couldn’t agree more with you on this matter. Personally, I frequently drop off nice items (mostly kids toys and excess household items of value) and sometimes find a ‘treasure’ that I might use myself. My most recent acquisition is a pair of well made rustic end irons for a fireplace… just what I could use. What I really enjoy however is interacting with a vibrant cross section of the community as we chat about town news etc. Well, that won’t be possible, at least in such a low key, congenial venue (in my opinion). The rationale for the DPW decision seems a bit arbitrary and self serving. From my experience, I haven’t noticed much competition for donated items and, in fact, don’t really care if somebody takes away stuff for whatever reason (it means less items to throw away). Such a decision to close the shed should really be supported by a town referendum or at least a substantial percentage of the population via a petition. It’s a sad day when a vocal few can force their views on the larger community with little input a majority of those who use the donation shed.

7 Sue Rosenthal November 22, 2011 at 11:40 PM

This is just sad. I’ve found some very nice items there and have been able to leave things I didn’t want to just throw away when I knew someone could make good use of them. A toaster oven that I never used; a “george Foreman” grill; a coffee maker; all left with the original instruction manuals. I picked up an air conditioner in good working order, countless lovely picture frames. What a shame that a few greedy, pushy people can ruin it for everyone. :-(

8 Nonresident November 22, 2011 at 11:41 PM

This is what http://www.freecycle.org/ was put in place to solve.

9 Eric November 22, 2011 at 11:55 PM

This is very hard news to digest. My wife works as a teacher in a local non-profit day care and after school program, and the Swap Shop has been able to provide hundreds of free books and gently-used children’s toys to her classroom and to the families she works with daily. Each Saturday we bring our trash, recyclables and Swap Shop items to the Transfer Station…we actually look forward to it. We spend no more than 15-20 minutes at the Swap Shop each Saturday looking for treasures for her classroom.

And yes, there are people that we see there regularly. We may be part of the 20-40 people included in the DPW’s estimate (gosh I hope not). We certainly make every attempt to get in and get out right away. We even attempt to park in the least desirable parking spaces (read: far away) so we don’t interfere with the regular operations of the Transfer Station. Could it be that the Swap Shop-pers be allowed to park on one side of the access road behind the Swap Shop? Although it doesn’t solve the issue of useless junk left in the Swap Shop, it would certainly alleviate some of the traffic snafus. Could this be tried out for 2-3 weeks to see how it would play out, prior to closing the Swap Shop down for good?

Just sayin’…

10 bob a November 23, 2011 at 6:13 AM

The swap shop is not the only problem.

Last saturday there was no place to park in the recycle area.

We had all kinds of people there for other reasons taking up parking spots.

The recycle area has become the mecca for politicians and every fundraising group in town.

How about tighten up the swap shop rules and banning solicitations.

I get many good books at the shop!!

11 earl November 23, 2011 at 6:41 AM

From the posted agenda (http://southboroughtown.com/Agendas/BOSAg112211.pdf) for the 11/22/2011 BOS meeting:

6 pm: Executive session
7 pm: Request to appoint two reserve police officers permanent full time status
7:30 pm: Truck exclusion Gilmore Road
7:45 pm: Karen Galligan – DPW Superintendent
– Request permission to hire Highway Division Truck Driver
– Approve grade change for Paul Harding
– Approve grade change for Mark McLaughlin
– Accept resignation of Town Engineer and review status of position
– Transfer Station funding analysis

And the newsworthy decision from this meeting is that the Swap Shop will be closed on December 1.

What’s the point of posting an agenda if items as “significant” as this are not considered important enough to include?

12 Carol Willoughby November 23, 2011 at 9:08 AM

I couldn’t agree with you more, Earl! The decision to close the Swap Shop wasn’t even a topic. This should have been presented to the townspeople for suggestions on improvements and solutions to the problems not just shut it down.
Carol Willoughby

13 Eric November 23, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Well stated Earl, well stated…

14 John Boiardi November 23, 2011 at 7:33 AM

Re the swap shop:

My question is — are these people that swamp the swap shop residents? The bad apples could be a non resident. I am and have been an advocate of the town installing a gate while residents pay for and use a transponder to work the gate. This could or might slow down or stop non residents from abusing our transfer station facility. I realize “studies” claim non-residents do not frequent the facility. However, talk to anyone and they will relate a story of vehicles with out stickers using and abusing our facility. I know that the people against the gate/transponder are afraid of vehicle back up on Rt85 on weekends. My response to that is— have you traveled Rt 9, the MTP or any other road at commuting time? Back ups!!!!!! We can handle it.

15 Sherri November 23, 2011 at 7:39 AM

Really? Really?! This is what the town is worrying about? That people spend their weekend there or visit 8 or 10 times. Who cares! Either it’s going in the hopper prim going to leave something that someone else might consider a treasure. This is ridiculous

16 Lisa November 23, 2011 at 3:53 PM

I completely agree with this comment. Why should we care if some people frequent the Swap Shop multiple times per day? Isn’t the point to reuse and recycle? Are we really suggesting that some folks are getting more then their fair share of used junk? Certainly there must be another explanation for the closing…this is illogical.

17 Tim Martel November 23, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Publish the names of the 20-40 people. See if they like the townsfolk to know about their greedy practice, maybe they’ll stop.

18 Al Hamilton November 23, 2011 at 7:45 AM

“Is it fiscally responsible to burden the Transfer Station employees with cleaning up people’s trash?”

I was under the impression that this is why we have a transfer station and why transfer station employees have jobs. Perhaps I am misinformed.

I can’t see the problem here. I have stuff that I don’t want I take to the swap shop and someone else finds a use for it. So what if they make money in the process, more power to them. It sounds like we are demonizing free enterprise here. Have we stopped to consider that the folks who are finding new homes for this stuff might rely on the modest incomes the activity provides?

19 Debbie November 27, 2011 at 8:44 PM

I agree – if some people are able to make a little extra money by selling swap shop items, thats a GOOD thing! and I know that lots of junk gets hauled into the dumpster anyway. whatever way we can do to avoid paying to have it hauled away seems like a good method. But if traffic has really become a problem because of it, then THAT is what needs to be addressed. Lets work on this!

20 Mark Ford November 23, 2011 at 8:08 AM

It’s ironic that this decision comes on the heels of the resident survey–if this question had been asked, I’ll bet the response would have been a resounding “keep it open.” Add my family to that column. My kids enjoy ferreting about, and on most occasions these days come up empty-handed, but they enjoy the hunt. And of course we have left plenty of stuff, too.

We had always assumed that some folks grabbed items for resale…and felt like if that’s what they need to do for money, so be it. If it’s a problem with others, I can’t believe a system couldn’t be devised to address that. Maybe open the Swap Shop on weekends only, and solicit help from the Seniors (for a tax savings?), the Scouts, etc…

And spitting on town employees? That’s disgusting, and I assume charges were filed–if not, I don’t understand why they weren’t.

It’s not that hard to separate the wheat from the chaff–and if the DPW needs help moving the trash, I’m sure they can solicit some volunteers to help–though I largely agree with Jim’s point, above…what work is not getting done at the Transfer Station that would get accomplished if we closed the Swap Shop? Will there be an attendant reduction in personnel with this responsibility removed?

Bad call, hope it will be revisited.

21 djd66 November 23, 2011 at 8:39 AM

This is outrageous.
Jim (up above) made some excellent points about this issue. This is our town and the people want the swap shop. In this day and age when we are all so wasteful, I feel great about leaving something for someone else to re-use. If there are some problems at the swap shop – they need to work it out – not just go ahead and make a rash decision and all of a sudden close it.

Who is running this town and making decisions?? This is not leadership, this is just the town giving up on something that has worked for years. Do you go ahead and close a playground because it gets vandalized or if there are criminals hanging out there? NO, YOU FIX THE PROBLEM!

If there were just a little creativity, there are 100’s of ways for the town to make the swap shop a better place. Personally, I think the swap shop could be 3x bigger.

I am not sure if this is a done deal, but this issue alone is enough to make me want to get off my proverbial bottom and go to town meeting in the spring. I think there are 1000’s of other people in the town that feel the same way. (the silent majority)

That being said, I think the town should reconsider this decision until town meeting in the spring.

Maybe all of us 99%’ers should go and occupy the swap shop!

22 Carol Willoughby November 23, 2011 at 8:44 AM

This is what I placed on facebook last night plus additional comments.
The Swap Shop should remain open. The abuse is minimal. Let the community staff and police those who take advantage. So many of us have contributed and/or acquired many items. Leave it alone! Was anyone made aware of this topic before tonight? I didn’t see it advertised. Again, townspeople have been screwed out of making an important decision for “us”. Because it was a recommendation from the DPW doesn’t mean the BOS had to support it. What are they and the DPW thinking? Instead of coming up with a corrective plan they decided to just shut it down. That was a lame move. I cannot believe the Selectmen would make such a ridiculous decision! Shame on them!
We pay, now, $175 for the use of the Transfer Station. It doesn’t cost the town anymore money to have the employees remove the leftovers of the Swap Shop. They are being paid to work there. That is, or was, part of the Transfer Station.
I have run a child care for 27 years in Southborough. I have been able to pick up ride on toys, bicycles, playhouses, books, and many other items for the kids to use when I couldn’t afford to purchase them. And I have placed many an item there for others to use. This was a great recycling opportunity for the town.
I will be starting a petition to place “Reopen the Swap Shop” on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant, in April, as an article for the Townspeople to vote on. Suggestions and solutions on maintaining the Swap Shop and regulating abuse should be worked on. With this in mind, a committee should be established. With all the comments against the decision to close the Swap Shop, this issue appears to be very important to the Southborough community.
Carol Willoughby

23 kaysee November 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Carol – I know quite a few people, including myself, that would be rushing to sign your petition. Although I have not purchased a dump sticker the past two years so I have not used the recycle center, hopper, or the beloved Swap Shop (I have been taking my trash/recycling elsewhere), I agree it should be up to the Townspeople to decide. The price of the stickers are getting ridiculous! When we first moved here it was $100 for the 1st sticker & $50 for each additional. Now it’s $175 for the first with the second free. The old way made so much more sense. Wherever you have petition signings, I hope you post where you are so my non-dump-stickered car does not get caught driving through the dump. ;-)

If you need anything for your daycare, I’m purging some of my kids stuff, let me know and I would love to Swap Shop it to you!

24 AD Miller November 23, 2011 at 8:49 AM

This is an asinine decision and there is no better way to say it. Closing the swap shop will only increase the amount of trash that is thrown into the hopper and decrease the amount that is recycled. The town already does a piss poor job of recycling (only number 1 and 2 plastics are accepted…really?? Give me a break, many local towns do a hell of a lot better, heck the city of Boston has a far better recycling program than we have). The swap shop is a great place for couples who have young children to find lightly used toys not to mention a great place to find books to read that you may not have the ability to buy new. I think everyone who uses the swap shop knows that a small number of people look for stuff to resell on ebay or Craigslist, but that is their decision and if they need the extra money which can be made from selling the castoffs of those better off than who are we to deny them that right. This is a heavy handed approach by our so-called town leaders who yet again prove themselves to be completely out of touch with reality.

25 Laura November 30, 2011 at 12:42 PM

You can recycle all plastics that have the recycle symbol. (This includes meat trays and the like) You can check the recycle page website for the updated list of acceptable items. There’s a lot more that can be recycled than a few years back. I have very little trash that needs to go in the hopper. Unfortunately, we are not yet single stream (paper, plastic, cardboard together), so you have to set up some sorting arrangement.

26 Trixie November 23, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Wow between here and Facebook, I have never seen such a consensus on any topic. We do have seniors that “volunteer” at the Swap Shop and they do a lovely job organizing it when they are there.

I don’t have time to sell my unwanted items online. I agree, if someone else does – go for it (as long as they mind their manners).

The gate is not a bad idea either, although I think random patrol car visits and tickets also does a lot to deter unstickered vehicles.

27 Amy November 23, 2011 at 9:13 AM

I agree the senior volunteers do a wonderful job keeping it organized and are so friendly to my children when we go in- my children enjoy bringing something they do not use anymore just to find a new treasure. Teaches them that new expensive things are not always better-

28 Amy November 23, 2011 at 9:05 AM

I am very disappointed that this decision was made without trying other means to fix the problem. I myself have never known there was a problem- there are no signs posted- that I am aware of- listing rules of the swap shop. My guess is the toughest time at the swap shop is late afternoon on a Saturday- that’s when a lot of last minute stuff is dropped off- how about we look into closing it much earlier on a Saturday. I go often during the week and I have never witnessed any abuse. No one hanging out- if someone comes and gets something and sells on Ebay well yes I agree that may have not been the intent of the swap shop but the person dropping the item off chose not to sell it themself and someone else took the opportunity. We may not agree but is that really abuse? Now if people are hanging out and “taking over the platform” then that’s another issue that should be addressed. Let’s really understand how many are abusing- the same 20-40?- yes I do call that a few when you count the number of residents who use the transfer station- who will now no longer be able to use the swap shop.
And I’m sorry but if there is anyone yelling at intimidating or dear God spitting at a town emplyee or any resident anywhere in town you better call the police that goes way above abusing the swap shop.
I have seen police patrol the transfer station looking for stickers I have never seen any issue over at the transfer station though- Karen instead of making this decision why can’t we all try to come up with a way to keep it open and make it work.
I have seen a lot of good things go in and out of the swap shop- Saturdays do seem to be the most chaotic- I am very disappointed that all of us who use the transfer station were not given a chance to fix this situation- a situation that so many of us did not even know existed-

29 SandyPo November 25, 2011 at 11:45 AM

I agree — the DPW guys are wonderful and don’t deserve ANY abuse but why is it not a matter for the police? Closing the Swap Shop so suddenly is a real shame and loss for all the “good” people of Southborough.

30 djd66 November 23, 2011 at 9:30 AM

I have never seen so many posts come up quicker on any topic,… this is great and we are fortunate we have a place to vent.

Board of Selectman – ARE YOU LISTENING????? Can you hear the outrage???

Unless you want to lose your jobs – call for an executive session (immediately) and table closing of the swap shop until the next town meeting. This is why we have a town meeting to decide major issues before the town’s people.

I am sure I speak for the 1,000’s of frustrated people on this matter and I want to be able to voice my outrage in front of the BOS and the town!

31 dirty little secret November 23, 2011 at 10:32 AM

might as well fix the other problem while you are at it and stop all the commercial pick up trucks from dumping demolition/construction stuff too!

32 Anna November 23, 2011 at 10:38 AM

The things that remain at the end of the day pale in comparison to the volume of items that transfer hands on a day at the transfer station. Discussion on minimizing the problems at the swap shop may be in order. I don’t think that the folks making this decision know what it means to the community members that frequent the swap shop. We have always taken the pay it forward attitude with the items that we have left, and appreciated the items that we have received. I am so happy with some of our finds!!

The swap shop has a measurable benefit to our family. Our budget would not allow for some the things we received for free. I actually attribute much of the reading interest and ability of my children to the books that we have found at the swap shop. We go to the library but even studies show that actually owning books makes a huge difference. I could never afford to buy them the number of books! Then after they read them for awhile, another child gets to enjoy them. Same thing with the toys. Nothing like seeing another resident carry off a great find that I brought.

I don’t know about that number of people haunting the place. I nearly always find parking and there is a busy time late on Saturdays that is predictably so. Most of the time it is not. That could also be partially addressed by switching the schedule to a Wed-Fri- Sat- Sun timetable!!

Finally, I think that the number of people that camp out and resell is more limited than that. I can always get in and get out of there. There is one neighbor of mine that goes a couple of times on a Saturday. She is not grabby and does not hang out all day. No one who knew her situation would fault her for that. She lost her job, is fighting breast cancer, and is caring for her dead sister’s young girl. If she finds a few toys for the little girl or can make a little money for heat or groceries reselling on eBay more power to her I say.

The benefit is so valuable to us individually and as a community. I could just go on and on. Please don’t let the swap shop go away!! PLEASE!!

33 Amy November 23, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Great points Anna- thanks for sharing. I do not believe they understand how much the swap shop has helped people- seems like it has become an issue of how bothersome it is for the town employees.

34 Eric November 23, 2011 at 1:40 PM

I agree with Anna and Amy

35 Lisa November 23, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Thank you ‘Anna’ for your thoughtful comments. I am that person you referred to in your post…unemployed, breast cancer patient (thankfully, just finished treatment!), legal guardian to my niece.

I had no idea that ‘people like me’ presented a problem to the Swap Shop. In fact, the lovely ladies that work there always encouraged me to take items. Less for the hopper, they’d say. Most items indeed have gone to my niece, as I can no longer afford to purchase them for her. Many things I’ve found have gone to her after- school program, where they also have a tight budget. And yes, I have sold some things on Ebay. The money I’ve made is nominal.

Had I known this was a problem for people I would not have done it. If someone discards an unwanted item, isn’t the point for someone else to benefit from it? Before you judge all of the ‘regulars’ at the Swap Shop, please keep an open heart and understand that some of us in Southborough are not as fortunate as others.

36 SandyPo November 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM

I don’t agree with you selling items you found on Ebay. People put things in the Swap Shop so that others can use them, not make money from them. I understand that things are tough — I’m unemployed, too — but I would not have taken nice, unwanted furniture or household items to the Swap Shop if I thought someone else would just grab them and sell them for their own profit. That’s not the purpose of the Shop.

37 Concerned November 25, 2011 at 4:34 PM

The sole purpose of the swap shop? To get rid of unwanted stuff without costing the town money to put it in a landfill. Period. I couldn’t care less why/who/where it goes if it helps the environment and saves tax dollars.

38 Mark Ford November 23, 2011 at 11:09 AM

I’m going to place calls to the selectmen in case they don’t read this blog. I’ll bet if others do the same, they’ll get the message quickly.

39 SB Resident November 23, 2011 at 11:18 AM

This boils down to laziness by the DPW workers. Ms. Galligan is too lazy to come up with solutions and the other workers are too lazy to tote the junk over to the hopper. This is your job as we, your bosses, have decided it to be, so do it!!!

Just to keep the noise level up on the issue, I’ll post that I agree with all the comments above in support of the swap shop.

1) I go every sat and its busy, but it’s not really a problem.
2) It WILL create more trash.
3) It is OUR swap shop and if we want it open it should remain open.
4) People camping out aren’t abusing anything really. Hogging spots is, so just make them park elsewhere.
5) People selling the “good stuff” is just the free market. Someone who wants the object still gets it and someone who needs the money gets it. win-win
6) The tv statement is just dumb, if someone is will to put one in the swap shot when no one is looking, they are certainly willing to put it in the hopper when no one is looking.

All this and I’ve never even used the swap shop, but I’m glad its there as an option.

40 Mark Ford November 23, 2011 at 1:11 PM

I object to your attitude, SB. I think neither Ms. Galligan nor the DPW workers are lazy…perhaps they’ve felt like they’ve been trying to deal with this themselves for a while, and are at their wit’s end. Rather than criticize them, I hope we can find a solution that will help them, and allow what is obviously an important resource to remain open.

41 Laura November 30, 2011 at 12:46 PM

If they are at their wits end, why didn’t they try posting rules or at least communicating there is a problem? No, this whole thing was done very slyly. Why wasn’t the proposed closing posted anywhere until it was a done deal? I am not in favor of anyone giving the DPW workers a hard time. And, I think most people are very kind and courteous at the Swap Shop.

42 Mark Ford November 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Laura, I was being kind to SBResident. What I objected to in that post was the laziness comments, and I was trying to soften that critique. By and large, I agree with your points…and again, if Town employees were spat at, I’d really like to see the filed Police report–that’s an imperative step one to that claim’s credibility.

I noticed in another “Swapgate” post that workers felt abused last Saturday…did anyone else observe this? Again, were the Police called? If not, why not? This seems really simple and obvious…you have the offender’s license plate(s), Report The Abuse! I hope that was done, and we’ll see some penalty for the transgression.

43 SandyPo November 25, 2011 at 11:49 AM

I agree with Mark Ford. The DPW workers aren’t lazy or dumb and you seem to have totally ignored the fact that people actually SPIT on them — you think that’s ok? And the TVs aren’t supposed to be in the Swap Shop or the “hopper” — they’re CRTs and should be disposed of legally, which costs money. Why do you think our transfer sticker rate is going up every year? Do you think those costs just disappear into thin air? And people camping out ARE abusing the area. However, I agree with you that the Swap Shop should stay open. But we need to find a better way.

44 Laura November 30, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Best Buy will recycle TVs or monitors up to 32″ for a $10 fee. The person bringing in the TV or monitor is then given a $10 gift certificate on the spot. I got rid of 2 TV and 2 monitors this way. Very cheap, very efficient, and available 7 days a week. There is a limit of 2 items per day. You can take unwanted electronics for no fee subject to the two item per day limit. Great way to dispose of unwanted e-waste responsibly. You do not need to prove where you bought the items to be recycled. (i,e they don’t have to be Best Buy purchases) More info on their website.

45 John Rooney November 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Unfortunately the town is not dealing with the frolic and detour of “one bad apple.” While it is convenient to try to isolate misconduct, targeting an individual obscures from scrutiny change that is required. The inappropriate and deliberate conduct of a few has emboldened and transformed the conduct of many into a barrel palpably full of such apples.

There is regrettable rudeness in our society today. Social and public discourse is marked by uncivility and boorishness. DPW workers, and public employees in general, are seen as second class citizens, insulted, demeaned, ignored and spat upon. So many people fail to understand, or even take the time to understand, that the overwhelming majority of public employees are hardworking, dedicated people who are conscientiously trying to do a good job.

When I vote I always try to determine what is in the best interest of the Town as a whole. This is difficult to do at times, and citizen participation is critical. I agree with those who suggest a more detailed agenda would be helpful, and a description of “funding” for the Transfer Station may seem too generic in this instance. However, we also discussed issues relating to commercial use of the Transfer Station, pay as you throw options, sticker fees, etc. All of these issues concerned funding, and at some point the agenda becomes too cumbersome to list every potential item that may come up under a broad category.

In order for the swap shop to operate as it was intended, it has sadly come to the point where, because of intentional and extreme conduct, police enforcement and monitoring is required. It is a sad commentary on the state of our community, and shocks the conscious of many, that something as simple as a town swap shop requires police enforcement. Enforcement by DPW workers and volunteers has not worked, and has in fact further exacerbated misconduct.

The town finds itself at somewhat of a crossroad. It is hard to claim you’re fiscally responsible when you raise your hand and vote aye to spending after spending. We no longer have one-time money to hold back the onslaught of rising municipal costs. Along with that, I am not prepared to propose successive overrides as a panacea for subsidizing the rising cost of municipal services.

Despite the sanctity of the swap shop to many, I am not in favor of expending limited town resources to police and monitor the swap shop. On my list of spending priorities, expending dollars for swap shop enforcement would be absent. That said, if the consensus is that people are willing to increase town budgets in order to monitor residential conduct at the Transfer Station, Department Heads can incorporate those costs into budgets to be approved at Town Meeting. Also, as I have said in the past, the BOS does not sit as a group of philosopher kings with the purpose of second-guessing the will of the residents; people govern themselves and if people believe that choices are wrong, then the choices can be rectified at the ballot box.

46 AD Miller November 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Unfortunately there are bad apples everywhere (and frankly, as someone who did not grow up in this area and just moved here recently, rudeness is part of the state motto); however the approach of the BOS was completely wrong. Not everyone in this town lives on Sears road and drives a Range Rover. The swap shop is vital for many reasons including for people who are looking for books to read (see poster above) and for used items that they can re-purpose. Last year I picked up an old bookcase at the swap shop that I took apart and used the wood to make cold frames to start some of my seedlings outside earlier. This saved me the money of having to buy new wood and allowed me to use an object that likely would have been thrown in the hopper.

Many towns in the Commonwealth have swap shops and they universally allow objects to be passed along, but they also really help the less fortunate. The swap shop is a place where items are to be swapped and that is exactly what is currently occurring, so I see no reason to argue that the shop is not being used as intended. Admittedly, I am at the swap shop a lot, not to find stuff to sell, but to find things that I can re-use/re-purpose in our house so I don’t have to buy something new. We also have a 6 month old and have gotten her some really great toys at the swap shop.

Far worse offenses occur in other parts of the transfer station. I routinely see cars/trucks without stickers dumping materials into the hopper. This is of far greater concern than the issues going on at the swap shop. As suggested by Ms. Galligan, why doesn’t the town just call Big Brothers and Big Sisters to arrange a pick up of what is left over in the late afternoon. That is what she told the rest of us to do…

47 Mark Ford November 23, 2011 at 1:03 PM

John, if you mean “we blew it,” I agree. ;-)

We can argue about the degradation of civil discourse another time–I think bad social behavior has been around since the dawn of man and the first stick fight (with apologies to Stanley Kubrick)–but there are many inexpensive/free fixes to the Swap Shop issue. Posting rules and regulations would be a good first step…this is the first most of us have heard about this issue! Should we limit visits to the shop? Should we install security cameras? Can we empower Transfer Station employees to revoke stickers? Should we have more consistent volunteer staffing? Should we limit hours? There are lots of things we could try before shutting it down becomes an imperative.

I visit the Transfer Station at least 60 times per year. Multiply that by the 17 (yikes!) years we’ve lived in town, and that’s a LOT of times to witness rude behavior. I’ve never seen it, which isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen. More often than not, I see the good Transfer Station employees bantering with townspeople…they are true frontline town customer service reps, and they do a great job. I see respect and friendliness directed their way, and being “in” with them is a club most of us aspire to.

Again, if they’ve been abused–verbally, or god forbid, physically–this is not a “trivial” issue and I’m assuming the Police have been involved. Have they?

The budget issues you speak of will plague us as the year moves forward, but I don’t think the fix here is a budget buster, at least not yet. Do you?

48 SB Resident November 23, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Your only argument here for shutting down the swap shop is due to the need for police enforcement or monitoring, but there is not one person here who agrees with you. Many people are commenting on how they consistently bring their children through the shop! How can one side see the issue as so dire as for the need to shut the swap shop down and the other side see absolutely no problem at all. I think we are owed a better explanation than your hardened views on society and the calling of Southborough a barrel full of bad apples!

49 djd66 November 23, 2011 at 11:38 PM

Mr. Rooney –

Please do ALL of us a favor,… and step off that high horse of yours. Your “tone” in the post above is talking down to us – the people who elected you. I have never seen an elected official speak this way to the electorate! You are a member of the Board of Selectman – you are not a SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. Reading your post, I am just shaking my head thinking “who is this guy” and “boy he loves to hear himself talk.” You must think very highly of yourself. I certainly do not!

In any event,… yeah you have a little bit of power in this small town of our, but judging from all the comments above (61 in less than 24 hours) you and your cohorts need to reconsider – as you have made the wrong decision!

People are very pissed off – myself included! You were elected to represent the people – not your view of the world exclusively. You were elected to do the best for this town. If you are not in a position to do what is best for the citizens of this town then you and your board should step down immediately.

If the BOS is not willing to reconsider the decision they have made, we as a town should reconsider who we have elected to run our town.

50 Kelly November 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Mr. Rooney, with all due respect, you and the rest of the Selectmen are tone-deaf on this one.
1. No one here is convinced that the Swap Shop is a lavish expense that is draining the town coffers. Al Hamilton (who I rarely agree with) put it best: ” ‘Is it fiscally responsible to burden the Transfer Station employees with cleaning up people’s trash?” I was under the impression that this is why we have a transfer station and why transfer station employees have jobs.'”
2. Do your homework. Call your counterparts in other towns that have successful Swap Shops and find out how they manage them. No need to reinvent the wheel here – just put in place some common-sense rules and procedures.
3. If there are a few individuals misbehaving, deal with them individually. There is no evidence that the Swap Shop is a major crime scene. It’s a fun place to visit with your kids. Get some perspective.

The Swap Shop is a beloved community institution. It promotes sharing, recycling, and a little free fun for families and people of all generations. What more could we ask for in this gloomy economic climate?

Come on Scrooge, rethink this one.

51 Tessa Stephens November 24, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Bravo Kelly.

52 Dick Chase November 28, 2011 at 10:26 AM

I’m afraid that I’m not so credulous as to buy the cost argument as presented. Was any evidence offered by anyone to indicate that we will save money by closing the swap shop? Was evidence presented to the BOS that managing the swap shop requires overtime pay or takes time away from other tasks? If so, what are the overtime savings, or what additional tasks will the DPW accomplish with the swap shop closed?

I also don’t understand why there would be extra costs for the police to help in addressing the behavior issues as part of their regular patrols through the transfer station. Or am I wrong in assuming that they do that already? Isn’t regularly patrolling heavily trafficked common areas of town one of the basic things that police departments do? Have the police been called to the transfer station a lot to deal with confrontations? I don’t recall seeing anything about the transfer station in the police logs in the paper. Did the someone claim that the only way to deal with the behavior problem would be to have a permanent police presence at the transfer station? That’s the only thing that would really cost us more, but I’d want to see some hard facts demonstrating that that’s the only solution.

We depend upon our BOS to govern by fact, not anecdote. Shouting “we can’t afford it” for every issue without even attempting to quantify the cost is irresponsible hyperbole.

53 Kelly November 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM

Dick, what a great comment. I hope you will also send that directly to the selectmen. Good governance 101: Gather the facts, hear different points of view, make a rational, well-planned decision.

54 SouthboroDave November 23, 2011 at 11:35 AM

It pleases me a great deal to see the overwhelming consensus on this subject. Although, it’s a little ironic that something as trivial as closing the swap shop can cause such an uproar when we blindly ignore more important matters. Just playing devils advocate..

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think the DPW knowingly didn’t make this an agenda item. The DPW seems to be the only party interested in shutting down the shop because it makes their JOBs more difficult. I think they knew there would be an outrage and they tried to sneak this in while they had the BOS’ ears. It worked. I’m a little shocked that the BOS didn’t have a little more sense to ask them to try to solicit ideas on how to minimize or combat the abuse. Yet again, that sounds like more work for the DPW.

Based on the strong outrage I have a strong feeling the shop will remain open, much to the she-grin of the DPW. :) The power of the people will prevail.

55 3rd Generation November 23, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Sign me up- I’ll volunteer my time on a Saturday.

So I understand the BOS rationale accurately, the response to individuals being rude is to completely close down that entire service to those who paid $175 to access the entirety of the service. Whereas the majority of individuals are appropriate in their transaction and use of said service? So, when shall I be getting my refund?

My general understanding of misconduct is that in order to correct behavior you have to provide redirection and the opportunity for an individual, or individuals, to make the appropriate behavioral modification. That would appear difficult to do, seeing as there are actually no “official” rules an there was no opportunity for the public to take heed of any warning and therein correct such behavior. Usually, one sends their kids to time out before they throw out the Xbox.

Further, as the Swap Shop will be closed, I would presume that in the interest of consistency the BOS will also be closing the steel recycling area? I could as easily ebay anything in that area. So, when will that be closing?

Oh, and I imagine that the clothing donation bin, too?

Ah, and the recycling- certainly don’t want those extreme couponers that go dumpster diving to get out of hand.

Seems pretty contradictory to close down the Swap Shop when our Recycling Committee has been spending years trying to cultivate a culture of Renew, Reuse, Recycle.

The message of the Swap Shop seems pretty simple to me- encourage individuals of any generation to give to someone else what they no longer need. It’s a moral message and an environmental one. I could care less if my old items are Ebayed; good for the individual who sees value where I see the need for more space in my attic! What I do care about are the NPOs that do find valuable items there; the moms and dads who were able to take care of some Xmas shopping; the young child that sees treasure in a tattered book. I’m pretty sure as a community we do not support rudeness towards any staff. That’s not an ideal I support, nor do I think anyone on this forum does. But how about instead of punishing the group, you punish those that did the “crime.” Ban those individuals, limit their use of the service. Or, if you are going to go down this path, be prepared to shut down every venue that may have an issue.

Look forward to the petition to keep it open- see you all at the Swap Shop to sign it this weekend.

56 Carol Willoughby November 23, 2011 at 2:05 PM

@3rd Generation – Hopefully I can get the petition printed up and out, but I need help with volunteers standing at the Transfer Station with it. I take care of my father during the weekends, who is on hospice at home, and cannot be at the Transfer Station on Saturday.

If anyone is interested in volunteering some of their time Saturday, please email me at carol.willoughby1@yahoo.com

Also, you can email selectmen at selectmen@southboroughma.c​om and DPW chief kgalligan@southboroughma.c​om to give your input regarding the senseless closure of the Swap Shop.

57 Ruth November 24, 2011 at 4:02 PM

When we were in dire needs for a good set of dishes, most of ours were old and broken, I found a set at the swap shop which I still use. Oh, and candle holders for old fashioned candles plus John Grisham books, I was thrilled. I would make No Loitering a rule. I am very happy I ruined someone;s business on E Bay that day..I usually donate kitchen and home items to Little Sisters. It is a great idea if we could have volunteers who could write down tag numbers of those abusing the Swap Shop. Or maybe do it ourselves.

58 SandyPo November 25, 2011 at 11:53 AM

I agree with you Ruth but someone has to POLICE the no loitering rule and the town can’t afford to provide someone. So it would have to be volunteers — and the Swap Shop is open 10 hours a day, four day a week so someone would have to organize them — and how do you know for sure that someone is taking stuff to re-use and not to re-sell? Lots of problems in making it work. Believe me, I don’t want to lose the swap shop either!

59 Ruth December 15, 2011 at 9:17 AM

The past week, my son has brought at least five car fulls of items to the transfer station. Many of the items were in good enough shape to go into the swap shop. He said there were people there grabbing the stuff as soon as he dropped it off. He made several trips a day. On one trip, he dropped off a large fish tank. Next visit, in a few hours, a lot of our donations were gone and the fish tank broken on the floor. A decent 20 gallon tank great for tropical fish, may have brought many hours of enjoyment to another who loves watching these beautiful fish, broken by careless handling. I still would like the “gatherers” tag numbers sent to the DPW

60 Trixie November 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Unfortunately the Swap Shop does not have a monopoly on rudeness in today’s society. Ask any store that has a limited number of sale items, ask any place where you have to wait online, ask movies theaters about cell phones. In no case was the answer to close the venue. Instead we adjusted – Disney has Fast Pass, theaters make announcements about cell phone, etc. etc. Why can’t we do the same? Put a 10-15 min limit on prime parking spaces, close the Swap Shop at 4 on Saturdays and for pete’s sakes charge or ban people who abuse DPW workers. By the way, I don’t consider them beneath me and I bet 99% of my neighbors don’t either.

61 Amy November 23, 2011 at 12:59 PM

@John when you say “In order for the swap shop to operate as it was intended, it has sadly come to the point where, because of intentional and extreme conduct, police enforcement and monitoring is required. It is a sad commentary on the state of our community, and shocks the conscious of many, that something as simple as a town swap shop requires police enforcement. Enforcement by DPW workers and volunteers has not worked, and has in fact further exacerbated misconduct. ”
I still have never seen this extreme conduct and police enforcement- I have not seen the police there anytime that I have visited the swap shop- what is this exacerbated misconduct that you refer to. The board and Karen please share the terrible things that are happening because I have yet to witness this- if it is overcrowded parking spaces and a “traffic” problem there are ways to work that out. Still so very disappointed on the way this was handled.

62 southsider November 23, 2011 at 1:20 PM

What a monumentally foolish over-reaction on the part of our “leaders”.
Further, the complaint about the unspecified agenda item is valid and our elected officials should sheepishly agree that they blew it rather than try and justify its omission.
Fix this mistake now.
I’ve been using the Transfer Station for almost 20 years and the most rudeness I’ve ever seen is when the employees race thru the property at 5:50pm screaming at us all to ‘get out’!

63 Ben Keyes November 23, 2011 at 1:55 PM

The swap shop is one of Southborough’s most sensible features. Not to get too philosophical…. but it helps us resist two of our most common and unnecessary impulses: to throw away perfectly good things, and to go and buy brand new things we do not really need. Swapping is good. There has to be a way to isolate and deal with the abuses without shutting down one of Southborough’s best loved institutions.

64 Matthew November 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

This is just a political ploy to draw attention to the issue of funding the transfer station. By solving an apparent problem by cutting services they can then be justified by saying that the services cost money and that rates should go up.

It’s too out of left field a decision to be anything but political maneuvering. The backlash is going to hit Karen and the Selectmen pretty hard so I hope they think it’s worth it.

If they really want to solve the problem all you need to do is set a policy that people can’t go to the dump more than twice a day and for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Folks caught trolling get a fine the first time, public naming the second time, and lose their sticker for the third strike. They could even close the swap shop after 1 on Saturdays, anything is better than closing it for good.

The real problem as “dirty little secret” pointed out are the contractors in pickups who may be residents but I doubt all their trash came from Southborough. How can they continue to dump for the same amount as a private resident who is limited to two 30 gallon barrels of construction debris per day? Charge them accordingly and let’s see by how much the transfer station deficit goes down.

65 Ron morse November 23, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Save the south rough swap shop!!!! Please help by posting your support/suggestion on twitter. Volunteers wil be needed. I will be at the swap shop Saturday nov 26th so those can sign a petition for your support any questions you may have please contact me at rmorsecarpentry@gmail.com. Yes, there are problems that can be simply resolved if we all work together.

66 Rich November 23, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Every one, please help save the swap shop. It save the town money. It is green. This is not what should be done.

67 Rachel November 23, 2011 at 4:02 PM

While I certainly believe what the folks at DPW say about the abuses, I’ve never seen them myself which makes me wonder how rampant they are…and I believe that this is a setback for the community. I came from Framingham where folks with no transfer station/swap shop option are left to leave stuff on the curb hoping someone will come by and pick it up…is that what we want? I agree that there is junk left at the shop that should just be thrown away but there are so many useable things that shouldn’t be thrown away, just passed on. I have loved the book shelf for my family, personally.

What has gotten me most upset about the transfer station is not the swap shop, but the number of times I have gone to throw my trash in the compactor only to have someone next to me throwing newspapers, boxes, and other recyclables into the trash rather than driving 30 seconds around the corner, taking a few steps up and down the sidewalk, and recycling. If there’s a problem to be addressed, I’d like it to be the abuse of the compactor…not the swap shop.

68 Carol Willoughby November 23, 2011 at 4:07 PM

I was informed that to have a petition, I need to complete an application first. I will not be able to get the application until Monday, at the earliest. So, there cannot be any petition signing this Saturday. This actually will give us more time to put our heads together and come up with some ideas on what to do. In the meantime, please email the selectmen at selectmen@southboroughma.com and Karen Galligan at kgalligan@southboroughma.com.

The Recycling Committee was not notified of the sudden closing of the Swap Shop. They will be having a meeting on December 8th. Anyone interested in attending please do so.

Ron – please email me so we can get organized.

69 southsider November 23, 2011 at 4:22 PM

There’s an application requirement to “.. have a petition.”
To whom must one apply?
Another decision from our leaders??????
I suspect that in America, you can write your petition up anyway you wish, Carol, and if you get enough signatures, our town politicians will notice it regardless of what kind of form it is on. And my understanding of our Constitution and Bill of Rights will need some serious adjusting if, in fact, you need someone to approve your application to interact with the rest of us.

70 Art Fay November 23, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Isnt it amazing that the general populace will sit passively by and accept tax increase after tax increase year after year without voicing their opinion or participating in any way, but threaten to take away their opportunity to root around in other peoples useless junk and a firestorm ensues? Perhaps next years Town Meeting could be held at the swap shop…..

71 Frank Crowell November 24, 2011 at 7:08 AM

Taking your observation one step further, it is amazing that the school superintendent and BOE can pull the stunt they did during and after TM without more then eight people posting about it here. Is it any wonder that the BOS thought they could do what they did? The Swap Shop needs to remain open.

72 Mike Elfland November 23, 2011 at 4:34 PM

I’m confident that town officials will see the reaction here and address the concerns of the DPW, thus allowing the swap shop to remain open. The issues of traffic, loitering, etc. seem legit. Let’s tackle them.

I look forward to continuing my Saturday tradition, with my son, of poring over the many items left in that shed. Where else can you get a discarded bowling ball?

73 Art Fay November 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM

…Ebay or Craigslist, apparently.

74 Jim November 23, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I have never been caught in a traffic jam trying to get into the recycle center because of the swap shed. The parking area is small and we may have to wait while our neighbors back out but never sat in traffic because of a line at the shed.

The problem lately, to me, has been the cookie sales and bake sales. One group had several tables set up selling baked goods in front of the shed this past weekend. Why not ban the solicitation of goods in the already crowded area and have them set up by the lower DPW lot where the groups hold car washes? That way if you wish to buy the goods you can be out of the heavily traveled areas and socialize in the open lot?

As far as abuse or rudeness at the shed? Please. We don’t need Big Brother monitoring our shed. Close it a half hour early so that the DPW staff can clear it out before they go home to there family’s on Saturday night but prior to that do they need to bother with the shed? We have all seen the bucket loader parked in the rear of the shed with non usable items in it but just let the shed take care of it’s self for the 4 days its opened and clear it out on Saturday night. Are you really telling me that the 3 or 4 workers in the area can’t work together for a half hour at the end of the week, throw every thing in the loader and lock the door until the following Wednesday morning when it reopens? And we all know the workers them selves use the shed, I have seen them grab goods and put them next door in the closed off area, not complaining, call it a job perk.

I don’t know why the people complaining about the “scavengers” are all worked up about. Drop off your recycles and go home. Why do they care if others spend the day at the dump? I believe the only issue is people parking for long periods near the shed, a metal sign with a 5 minute parking limit would do. Perhaps have the town hire a Police detail from 3pm to 6pm during the summer months to monitor the posted regulation and issue $20 tickets to violators. It’s not worth getting a $20 ticket for an item you may sell for $10 on line. This would offer one of our Officers the opportunity to make some extra cash, bring in revenue to the town from the parking citation’s and put an ease to the public over parking issues and threats towards the town employees and volunteers. It’s an easy fix, we don’t need gates, security cameras and shut downs.

75 Ron morse November 23, 2011 at 6:01 PM

The swap shop will not close on December 1st.

76 JD November 23, 2011 at 6:09 PM

I do have to say that I have avoided bringing stuff to the Swap Shack lately because of the group of people there who immediately grab my stuff and throw it in their car, seemingly to resell it. It’s happened to me most of the times I’ve gone there, which seems weird, reading all the rest of these comments.

This group of people don’t even look at what I’ve left – just grab it the second I put it down, toss it in their vehicle, and go back to do the same thing over and over. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth because I think it’s against the spirit of why the Swap Shack exists. We’re supposed to be swapping with other residents. So I’ve been giving my toys to a local battered women’s shelter instead.

I didn’t think about the fact that maybe the people doing this need the extra money – and that does break my heart. But still – and I know some will disagree – I don’t think that’s the point of the Swap Shack. I think residents should have the opportunity to browse ALL the donated stuff – not just the “unsellables” left by the resellers.

So yes – let’s be sure the Swap Shack stays. And let’s post some rules and enforce them as a community.

77 Raquel November 23, 2011 at 7:03 PM

I was very upset today when I heard the Southborough Swap Shop will be closing on Dec. 1st.
My family and I use the Swap Shop every time we go to the Transfer Station. We bring items from home that we no longer need and take items that we would like at home.
My kids love finding toys. My husband and I enjoy finding books and misc. items.
I think the Swap Shop is an amazing way to recycle items from home that are still good that other people would like.
If there were no Swap Shop I would have to throw out perfectly good items. And toys that my kids have outgrown would be tossed away.
I’ve often dropped off things that I’ve seen people take right away. It always makes me feel good to share with people from town.

Closing the Swap Shop would be a disservice to the people of Southborough.
If their are issues around “traffic” and parking their should be a sign that say 5 minute parking.
I am sure problems created by the Swap Shop can be resolved without it having to close.
My family would be very upset!

Once again the Swap Shop is a wonderful way to recycle which is encouraged by our town.

-Raquel and family

78 Resident November 23, 2011 at 7:32 PM

“I agree with those who suggest a more detailed agenda would be helpful, and a description of “funding” for the Transfer Station may seem too generic in this instance. However, we also discussed issues relating to commercial use of the Transfer Station, pay as you throw options, sticker fees, etc. All of these issues concerned funding, and at some point the agenda becomes too cumbersome to list every potential item that may come up under a broad category.”

This quote is astounding to me. A “more detailed agenda” would be more than “helpful” it would be fulfilling the MANDATE OF LAW. The law has been crystal clear since July of 2010. Open Meeting Law states that you cannot deliberate on a topic unless it has been clearly listed on the agenda and publicly posted for the information of the community. To quote:

“The list of topics shall have sufficient specificity to reasonably advise the public of the issues to be discussed at the meeting.”

The BOS does not have the right to decide that a detailed agenda is too “cumbersome.” The BOS broke the law by discussing and voting on this issue without clearly listing the topic on their agenda. When it was brought up by Ms. Galligan, the chairman should have directed Ms. Kitchen to place it on an upcoming agenda. The BOS should reverse their decision at their next meeting and place the topic on the agenda for a PROPER hearing of the matter which includes the participation of our community.

If the BOS refuses to do this, we, as citizens may request a simple ruling on this matter from the AG’s Division of Open Government at 617-963-2540.

If none of our BOS members or our employees can manage to figure out and abide by something as critical as Open Meeting Law, then we need either new BOS members, new employees or BOTH!

79 Carol Willoughby November 23, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Resident – You are right on the money. We can wait to step into action and see what happens at thd next BOS meeting. The BOS should rethink and change their decision or… tha AG’s office gets a call. And we will still keep in place the petitions.

80 Jim November 24, 2011 at 12:52 AM

December 6th should be the next BOS meeting;

“Meetings: Typically, 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month 7:00 p.m. in the Thomas McAuliffe Hearing Room on the second floor of the Southborough Town House.
Please call the receptionist at 485-0710 to confirm meeting dates”.

We all need to make a point to get to this meeting and express our anger with the BOS on there back door approach to this topic and our want for the swap shed to remain open. 1 person suggested the closure and 4 supported the suggestion and now hundreds are angry, we need to let them know. A petition is great but let’s put our faces with our names and let them hear us.

81 John Boiardi November 24, 2011 at 7:59 AM

If the swap shop is so desireous by towns people and it causes a problem with the operation of the transfer station perhaps the answer is to move the swap shop. Move it to another town location. Maybe a church would like to have the traffic and activity. If it were in another location it would soon be evident that it either a swap shop or a junk shop. What do other towns do with their usable but unused items?
How about bringing these items that townspeople feel are recycleable to charitable organizations such as St Vincent Depaul or the Salvation Army to help less fortunate people.

82 Southville Resident November 24, 2011 at 8:17 AM

“A Town Meeting’s action is not valid unless the subject was listed on the warrant.”
Without the specificity listed, as I think we all agree was done here by including the closing of the Swap Shop in with ‘Funding for the Transfer Station’, I understand this to mean the action taken by the BOS is not valid anyway.?!
Resident, as you seem to know what your talking about …am I reading this correctly??

http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cis/cistwn/twnidx.htm
Statutes governing Town Meetings can be found under Massachusetts General Laws, chapters 39 and 43A and Southborough’s specific by-laws can be obtained at the Town Clerks office.

83 Resident November 24, 2011 at 11:30 AM

I believe you are confusing “Town Meeting” with Board and Committee meetings, though the spirit is the same. “Town Meeting” refers to our single annual meeting. Meetings of the BOS are meetings of a government body and are to be in compliance with MA Open Meeting Law. Here is a link that might help:

http://www.mass.gov/ago/government-resources/open-meeting-law/

84 Robert Reeder November 24, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Are government officials being forced to drink some weird cult orange juice? The news is ripe with crazy decisions and closing the Swap Shop is the latest. I have listed specific items about the closing that had me blurting out: Seriously? Seriously?
– Someone takes a discarded item and sells it. Is that not the definition of capitalism? It shows initiative, self-reliance, and effort. Oh, I forgot. That is all now frowned upon in this country. We have figured out that we can vote ourselves a government that gives us everything … until everything runs out.
– You must fill out an application to petition. The right to petition is protected by the Bill of Rights and no citizen should need to apply to petition. There can rules about what makes a petition valid, but any citizen should be able to pick up a piece of paper and start a petition at any time.
– Where are the other 2 selectman’s comments? Are they unaware of this forum or just don’t care? Between the silence from them and Selectman Rooney’s condescension, it may be time for a recall election for all three selectman so that instead of replacing just one every now and then, we can have referendum on a fundamental shift in how this town is run. I don’t understand why it is hard for elected officials to remember that are servants of the people who elected them.
– And finally, are our town officials so lacking in ideas and skills that the only solution they can come up with is to throw the baby out with bath water?
Seriously? Seriously?

85 Leo Buck November 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM

It’s time for the 3 selectmen in this town to admit they made a mistake, take one on the chin and reverse their mistake and let the people of the town decide the outcome of the swap shop on the next ballot. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

86 djd66 November 24, 2011 at 11:30 AM

This is kind of funny! If you go to the Town of Southborough’s web site, there is a whole section dedicated to recycling and talking about how disposal costs have DOUBLED. It even advises people to take unwanted items to the swap shop.
Here’s the link: http://www.southboroughtown.com/dpw/dpw/Recycling%20cttee/ReduceTrash.htm
Now if you close off a section of the Transfer Station that is dedicated to recycling (now most if the stuff I brought to the swap shop will end up in the hopper) how will that not increase the overall operating cost of trash disposal??

SAVE THE SWAP SHOP!

87 MWoods November 24, 2011 at 1:56 PM

I have lived in town for 8 years. I have NEVER seen any traffic, I have also NEVER witnessed any rude or improper behavior. I am sure that it has gone on, but you can’t punish the entire town. I also have dropped off and picked up many useful items. I believe that where there is a will, there is a way, and I believe it is the people’s will for the Swap Shop to remain open. I hope that our town administrators will put some effort into figuring this out, since they are supposed to be working for us. At the very least, let’s have some discussion… we are at least entitled to that.

88 John Kendall November 24, 2011 at 10:48 PM

Closing the swap shop does not address the problems that occur at the Transfer Station. The real problems: like this past Saturday, people were shooting the breeze after emptying trash at the pit, preventing others from disposing of their trash. Then you have to wait in line to get to the Recycling area because someone is selling something outside the Swap Shop, people are chatting away, and nobody is leaving, preventing others from taking care of business. Saturdays are the worst! Sometimes there is also some type of fundraiser going on at the Public Works building, such as a carwash, which just compounds the problems. If everyone would keep socializing to a minimum and keep traffic moving, the problems would go away. As for people taking things from the swap shop to sell, yeah, I’m sure there are a few free enterprisers taking advantage of things, but closing down is not the solution. Finally, in response to other postings on this subject, I too agree that this was NOT on the posted Selectmen’s agenda and should not have been dealt with it the way they did. Their order should be rescinded and a quiestion should be placed on the ballot in May. In the meantime ms. galligan may want to discuss present policies, needed changes, and enforcement.

89 Kathy Cook November 25, 2011 at 1:21 PM

I am making the comment after reading all previously posted comments on the Swap Shop closing. After reading all, it is clear that there is a common thread. Every single writer wants to keep the Swap Shop open and most had constructive suggestions as to how to rectify the perceived problems. From the thread, it appears that Saturday afternoons are the biggest problem. Since most people work during the week, that makes sense. My family uses the Transfer Station early on Saturdays and does not experience a problem. If Saturday afternoons are the biggest problem, let’s focus on that. Almost all of the bloggers state they were not aware of the problems outlined by Ms. Galligan. They clearly are now. I suspect that some issues will improve simply because now people are aware of what they are. Some problems are inadvertent – people talking too long to friends, taking too long at the Swap Shop, etc. Posting a list of rules to gover n use of the recycling center including the Swap Shop should help. Having a robust monitoring problem for Saturday afternoons should be doable and help. That could be done with a combination of DPW employees and volunteers without increasing the cost of operating the transfer station. The town’s newly formed recycling committee could be asked to work on this issue. Lastly, it is clear that the town has spoken on this issue. With so much interest in keeping the Swap Shop operating, I am confident that a solution can be found. This should not be a hard problem to solve. Southborough has bigger problems to solve and needs just this kind of interest to work on those also.

90 SandyPo November 25, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Kathy,

I applaud your optimism but a list of rules will be just as good as the paper its printed on. If the offenders are willing to spit on DPW employees then they sure as hell are not going to pay attention to written rules. And to ask the DPW employees to monitor the Swap Shop is ridiculous — they are too busy now, particularly on Saturday. To utilize a group of committed citizens, that idea makes much more sense. You’re right, Saturday afternoons do seem to be the most crtical time…
but as I’ve asked earlier, how do you know who is taking stuff to re-use and who is taking stuff to sell?

91 Carl November 25, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Im sorry, I don’t understand. What difference does it make if someone takes someone elses discarded items and sells them?

92 Melissa Shields November 25, 2011 at 9:26 PM

Those in favor of working together to keep the Swap Shop Open should step up. The town made a choice to close it for a valid reason. We need volunteers, donations and community spirit to make a change. Anything is possible with a positive attitude.

93 College Student November 25, 2011 at 4:01 PM

I have never been so appalled by the decision for Southborough to close the Swap Shop. I have lived in Southborough my whole life and went through the public school system where I was taught to recycle and always “Think Green”. I have never been so embarrassed of such a decision to close the shop where community members come together to reuse, recycle and repurpose common household goods. If the Shop does indeed close on Dec. 1st- where are all of these items going to go? Directly in to the hopper. Has anyone considered how much waste would be increased as a result of this decision? It may even lead the town to start charging community members by the number of bagged trash they bring to the Transfer Station or increasing the price of Dump Stickers. This can lead to littering and dumping on to forbidden land and then we will have a whole other issue on our hands. In regards to the “re-selling” issue- WHO CARES! If you don’t want it, then why do you care what someone else does with it? As long as it is being reused in some way and not ending up in a landfill somewhere, I believe this is the least of our concerns. You may not be a Southborough resident in the next twenty years but I may be and your children sure as hell may be. I am not writing to start a huge environmental argument against closing the Swap Shop, but I strongly believe our decisions should consider the effects on the next generations to come. For Southborough to close this shop and go against everything Finn, Neary, Trottier and Algonquin has taught me is absolutely unforgiveable. I believe what the Town Selectman have done is unlawful. You were voted in to serve the residents of Southborough and hear our concerns. Well, here you go! If you don’t here us now and refuse to provide solutions then you are correct, maybe it is time for a change… and perhaps, a recall election. If the true reason why the swap shop is being closed is because of the lack or parking and increased improper behavior, then maybe we should first considered closing the bars in Southborough. There is misconduct and improper behavior everywhere. It is inexcusable for this shop to be closed over traffic jams and petty arguments. Call a meeting and let the people be heard. Oh, and maybe someone should notify the recycling committee of Southborough, because that seemed to slip the minds of those who made the Dec. 1st decision.

94 Ron morse November 25, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Rally at the Swap Shop tomorrow Saturday, November 26th. Come show your support that the swap shop should not close!

95 Carl November 25, 2011 at 8:02 PM

What time?

96 Jeff November 26, 2011 at 8:13 AM

We don’t need a rally. We have made our point clear to the selectmen. Cooler heads will prevail. We don’t need an occupy Southborough swap shop. This will only esculate things, get the police involved and turn it into what the selectmen are talking about.

97 Jeff November 26, 2011 at 8:13 AM

On another note, got to Boston section of craigslist, type in southboro and the word cheap and you will see a “store” created by a resident. I think this is what is being talked about by selling items gotten from the swap shop. The question is do we really care that this person is making needed income for themselfs????

98 TOM November 26, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Of course I care, this is an American dream! Don’t we cherish entrepreneurs in this country. Two thumbs up for someone who knowns how to work it out !

99 Steve November 26, 2011 at 9:52 PM

Yes we do care about this……. Have you been there when this person comes into the transfer station? This guy comes into the transfer station like a bat out of H***. He does not care who is around him or who is in the way. He will take items from your hand.
I have complained to the staff at the transfer station about this person several times. He is one of the bad apples. Take a ride to the address on the craigslist add some day and check out the front lawn.
You will see him pull a baseball bat or a barbie bike that I know would have made one of my twins very happy and I know it’s only going to be sold. Yes he saw it first and I guess he has a right to it, but its only due to the 20 trips on a Saturday. My kids and I will visit during our once a week dump run, we will always do our recycling first then we can take a walk into the shop for a treat. I personally do not agree with people that run a business out of the swap shop If I leave something I would like to know that it will go to put a smile on someone face for a least a minute not sit on a front lawn until its sold. I don’t want to see the shop close at all, but I agree there needs to be some rules posted that we all can follow and self police.

100 Southville Resident November 27, 2011 at 10:48 AM

If someone is down on luck and need to sell items occassionally to keep the lights on or food in the bellies of their little ones I do not believe any of us object to that!!! But to use it as a source of ‘business revenue’ is appalling to me. America or not PLEASE….I have personally donated Barbie Jeeps, basketball hoops, bikes, books, games, furniture, all to which were in great shape and had valuable life left in them and to be used by other children in town. (My hope anyway). I could myself have easily sold them at a yard sale or on ebay but deliberately brought them to the Swap Shop so someone who could benefit without having to pay a single penny for them….I no longer bring items because of the few bad apples. I ask around and give to friends of friends of friends who can use without having to be bullied by the likes of the few who have clearly taken advantage of a great resource. As I said I have no issue with people who need to occasionally utilize the few pennies they might get from a quick sale, my heart goes out to the situation people are facing these days…if I could help more in that department I surely would as many in town I believe would do the same ….but creating a ‘store’ and rude behavior to obtain the items to sell at this ‘cash only I will deliver anywhere store’ I think not. These are the ones we need to unite and stand up to. Not necessarily the BOS and DPW for being sick of dealing with these few. Being spit on REALLY, REALLY that’s disgusting and NO ONE should ever have to deal with this kind of behavior. And how does the spitter still have a sticker, seriously, if the police weren’t called for that. And NO the BOS and DPW clearly did not handle this right but it sure did make the issue known where before not many were aware of the conditions. I do not agree at all with how it was handled, the fact that it’s “closing”, but I do agree that these ‘stores’ are a bit much and not at all what most have in mind when we do donate items….like I said if you need to do that occasionally please do but that is not what I think is referred to about people selling items they rudely grab…right from your hand…I mean I was barely out of my car when he attempted to snatch things from my hand….That was the Last time I went to the Swap Shop!!

101 John Boiardi November 26, 2011 at 9:35 AM

People commenting on the swap shop are missing the point. The selectman were addressing the problem of JUNK being left at the swap shop. They are not against the swop shop. All the posts address the benefits of the swap shop which I am for. How about some ideas that address the problem, like moving it, policing it, volunteering to monitor it, limit opening, signs etc. Again what do other towns do? Southborough can’t be the only town that provides a swop location. I still feel that a different location would address the issue. People won’t be tempted to bring swop able items with their trash. They would have to make a conscious decision that an item is still usable and that someone could make use of it. Then they could make a separate trip to drop it off. Look around at the many drop off boxes where people drop pf clothes and the like. Again my solution is to move the swop shop and let those people who wnt to donate usable items make a separate trip.

102 southsider November 26, 2011 at 3:04 PM

I think the point of the swap shop was to allow us to easily drop off usable items that we no longer want rather than send them into the land fill. The ease of bringing both trash and donate-ables to one place is what makes it a success. Separate location? separate trip? separate hours? none would work nealy as well. If no one wants what is left off, the town has always been willing to clean it out and dispose of the items appropriately. Nothing that I have read led me to believe that the ‘problem’ relates to the excess junk being dropped off that no one wanted. On the contrary, it seems the officials were reacting to complaints from some people that they didn’t get their fair access to the swap shop. Our leaders solution: close it!

103 Laura November 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM

All I can imagine is that the person dropping off “junk” somehow thinks maybe someone will know how to fix it or be able to find the missing pieces. If you think about it, I think the intentions must have been good because it could have been thrown out for free on the way in. It’s not like we have a pay per bag system. But, having said all that I have claimed things I am sure others view as junk (eg chrome stand that appears rusty) because with a little (actually a lot of) elbow grease, it is good as new.

104 John Boiardi November 27, 2011 at 7:38 AM

Southsider
No question that it is easier to bring your trash and reusables to one location. Maybe we can ask St Vincent Depaul and the Salvation Army to accept trash when people who really want others to benefit from reusables but want to make only one trip. Maybe we can make the transfer staion a polling place so people can vote, dump their trash and drop off their reusables. The people that donate to organizations are willing to make a separate trip, a separate effort.
Pardon my sarcasm, I still feel that if you are seeking a solution that a separate location could resolve the issue.

105 Mark Ford November 27, 2011 at 12:38 PM

John,

There are other solutions which we should try first. Identifying that there is a problem is the first one…most people were unaware that this was such an issue. (I’m still not convinced it is…)

One reason the Transfer Station is so crowded on Saturday is that for many townspeople, it’s the only day they can use the facility. I’ll bet opening for some time on Sunday afternoon would help alleviate the Saturday throngs.

Time-limited parking, a “rules & regs” sign, enforced penalties for abuse of the rules, more frequent police presence (make it part of a patrol at the most crowded times), bigger volunteer effort, limited swap shop hours if need be…there’s a few ideas to kick around. I’ve seen many others.

106 Pat Q November 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM

copied from swap shop websites from some local towns……..

“because it not only diverts trash tonnage from landfills, but it adds up to savings on town disposal costs. For instance, the town of Dennis, MA diverts 56% of it’s residential solid waste from the landfill due to their Swap shop “Take it or Leave it”. “

“The purpose of the Swap Shop is to encourage reuse and reduce the amount of useful items entering the waste stream, saving valuable landfill space and money.”

I did a little research and many towns either already have a swap shop or are in the
midst of starting one. The overall goal is to reduce # of items that go into trash tonnage and landfills which also decreases town’s disposal costs. Most of the town websites have specific rules and almost all point out that items in the swap shop are NOT to be used for re-sale. It is strongly discouraged………..thus the title “SWAP” shop. Dealers are, in fact, discouraged from using swap shop items for their inventory and as noted on signs, “will be banned from the facility”. Towns do admit there are challenges with dealers hoarding the inventory and people taking items for resale purposes as well as loitering issues.

In a perfect world, I suppose, it should be ok for people to do what they want with the
items they pick up, but you can and do end up with individuals who take advantage and make a business from the towns swap shop……..which is not the intent. If I knew that my items were being taken for resale I would not drop them off. I have dropped off many, many items with the sole intent for them to be enjoyed by another child or family……for FREE.

Here are some more snipits from other town websites (I particularly like the first one):

1) sign at one town’s Swap Shop:
” Please note:
Attendant inspects and approves all items for swap shop.
Items are for personal use only, not for resale.
Shoppers must have A.R.T.S. vehicle permit.
Shoppers may only visit once a day – 15 minutes per visit.
The Town assumes no liability for any items taken.
Anyone not following the rules will be banned from using the facility.”

2) “ Items taken from the Swap Shop are not to be resold as this is for all residents to benefit from equally.”

3) “swap shop goals: a) To divert good useable items away from the waste stream conserving valuable landfill space and reducing Town’s landfilling costs
b) Give members of the community the opportunity to extend items’ useful life”

4) “It’s a great opportunity to have something you wouldn’t normally be able to have and give something back,”

5) “According to the 2006 town report, the transfer station processed 412 tons of bulky waste, which is mostly the type of “waste” found at swap shop. The following year, after the swap shop became available, bulky waste dropped to 273 tons. In the 2008 town report, it had fallen to just 136 tons. ”

Personally, I do not think that the items taken should be re-sold and it doesn’t matter
if they are “making a living” or being resourceful. Inherent in the INTENT of a swap shop and by definition of it’s name, Swap Shop, is that it can provide free items for people whether they choose it or need it. It should not be a barn full of free inventory for a dealer but should be a place that provides free resources that some residents have come to depend on.

107 Bonnie Phaneuf November 27, 2011 at 3:50 PM

No doubt, this should have been discussed more openly; that did not happen. The agenda was vague- the Board’s mistake. For sure, they know that now. Let’s work together on this issue, have an open forum before the Board of Selectman, revisit the rules and regulations and have a subsection on conduct and use of facilities. An example would be: if you engage in conduct that undermines the purpose and the function of the space, you will lose the privilege to use this space. This would include inappropriate language or actions towards any member of our community, not just the staff that works there. This sentiment, however, is one that must be adopted across the Town, and not just at one isolated place.

Yesterday, after reading the actions of the Board, I requested through Jean Kitchen that this appear on the December 6th, 2011 agenda. As of yet, this has not been confirmed. I, like many of you, hope that the Board will delay this closing pending further open discussion. If not on December 6th, then until after this necessary discussion takes place in a public forum.

Until that discussion takes place, I ask that we as a community act in a manner that will not undermine our goal to leave the Swap Shop open. Please act considerately, be mindful of parking, and please keep note of the closing time of the space (5:45pm).

108 Bonnie Phaneuf November 27, 2011 at 3:57 PM

UPDATE:
After participating in the efforts led by other residents to keep the Swap Shop open and organized yesterday (Saturday), I had the opportunity to ask Chairman Boland if the request I made will appear on their December 6th agenda (see previous post). Mr. Boland did not confirm or deny this request. My suggestion would be that Mr. Boland post a meeting of his board before noon on Monday, November 28th, for a meeting that would take place after noon on Wednesday, November 30th. This meets the requirements of MGL as it pertains to the posting of a meeting. Mr. Boland can post this meeting via Jean Kitchen should he not be able to go to the Town Hall himself.

And, understanding that not all three Selectmen may be present/available, two of the three can vote to delay the closing of the Swap Shop until the Board can meet with community and have the necessary open discussion.

109 Kelly Winand November 27, 2011 at 11:43 PM

I have been a resident of Southborough for nine years, and have yet to observe any of the behavior described by DPW Superintendent Galligan at the swap shop. This is not to say it hasn’t occurred; human nature being what it is, there will always be a few (fill in the blank) among us. That said, why should the majority of Southborough’s residents be denied access to a wonderful community asset because of the actions of a few ingrates?
Through the years I have acquired lots of great items at the swap shop – vases, books, children’s toys and games, even the stools my husband recommends that now sit in my kitchen. In return, I have brought dishes, books, games, lawn furniture, etc. Just think of all the items that would have been dumped in the compactor if Southborough did not have the Swap Shop. I find it completely implausible that there will not be a huge increase in items (many in perfectly good condition) thrown away at the station should the swap shop close. Then just watch how quickly the town will raise the yearly fee to use the transfer station, saying it’s necessary to handle the increased volume of trash. (And how nice of Ms. Galligan to wait until our checks for the increased fee to use the transfer station were cashed to make her little announcement!)

To my knowledge, Southborough residents have not been informed of the problems at the swap shop until now. If you want to make people aware of a problem and seek solutions to try and rectify them, making the decision to close the shop and announcing said decision nine days beforehand is not the way to go about it, not to mention very underhanded.
I will be adding my name to the petition to keep the swap shop open, and hope everyone else in Southborough will do the same.

110 Kelly Winand November 27, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Meant to say the stools my husband “refinished”

111 Steve Shi November 28, 2011 at 11:23 AM

I am surprised to hear about the decision to close the swap shop. To me, that decision is ill advised.

Southborough is my adopted home. As someone who has moved countries and moved around the area quite a bit before settling in Southborough 9 years ago, I consider Southborough the best town in New England because of its scenic setting, a closely knit community, and friendly neighbors. The swap shop experience is very much part of what I love about Southborough for its neighborliness and an implied community feeling that is openly accessible to every town person, regardless of one’s cultural and other sort of leanings.

To people who think the swap shop as just for throwing away one’s junk, I want to point out that it is also a gesture of neighborly goodwill. I recall finding a copy of Gabriel Gacia’s novel years ago that made me pine for a trip to South America and rekindled my love for literature. Unlike a library, the very randomness of the swap shop bookshelf is uniquely suited for finding books that one normally would not have sought out to read. I had left my own children’s furniture and working electronics including a laser printer and several computers for others. And one particularly memorable swap shop experience didn’t involve goods at all. I once helped a stranger who liked a large table but didn’t a large car. My wife and I offered to load the table in our minivan and follow her home. After dropping off the table, she gave us some of her homemade pasta. It was probably the best pasta I’ve eaten in years.

And I am still hoping to locate the owner of an almost brand new Somerset Maugham book. I had hung a notice looking for someone who had left a Commerce Bank deposit envelop with cash inside the book about two months ago. If you are the owner of that envelop, please contact me with the title or some other details of the book.

Finally, to address the complain about the people who use swap shop to supplement their income by selling stuff on Ebay, I ask: though it is not the primary purpose of the swap shop, is this not an environmentally preferred way to simply junking stuff away?

112 Al Hamilton November 28, 2011 at 1:04 PM

I think there are some solutions to the apparent problems, however, I think there is one that is a non starter. Banning someone because of the things they say.

1. The transfer station is public property.

2. The idea that we would have to agree to some form of “Speech Code” in order to have access to public property is dubious at best.

113 Pat Q November 28, 2011 at 2:57 PM

who mentioned anything about banning a person for what they say at the swap shop?

114 Frank Crowell November 28, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Check reply number 100 above.

115 Pat Q November 28, 2011 at 7:44 PM

got it………thank you!

116 Tonya November 28, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I have some questions for Ms. Galligan – what is the big deal that people are reselling items they found at the swap shop. I don’t get it. I have never sold anything I have found there and would not take the time to do such a thing. But why is Ms. Galligan so offended by the fact that some people would like to spend their Saturday morning at a dump hoping to get lucky and find some treasure to sell for a little cash. I am more likely to have to wait behind 6 cars to put my trash in the hole than to wait for a parking space at the recycle center (especially on a Saturday). I am overjoyed if the guy in front of me bypasses the hole and goes straight to the recycle center. Also, what is Ms. Galligan’s issue with the so called trash that she says is the majority of stuff that is left at the swap shop – there are over 200 postings from various people who say they either found or left quality items on multiple visits. So did we all just get lucky or is 1 man’s treasure Ms. Galligan’s trash – If most of the stuff left was trash – so many people would not be upset by the closing of the shop. Even if what is left is trash is it really that much of an effort for the attendents to throw the stuff away – they are there all day on a Saturday – we put our own trash in the hole – sometimes I see at least 2-3 of them – what could they have to do all day. As far as the bad behavior – I have lived here for 12 years – Southborough is a great town with very nice people – I tend to think these to be isolated incidents, but if I worked for Ms. Galligan and someone using the dump spit on me I would certainly expect her to ban that person from using the facilities, at least for a little while. If you go into Starbucks and spit on one of the employees I am pretty sure you will get kicked out – why are dump employees not given the same courtesy. I have trouble believing these are the real reasons for this closure.

117 C. Nicholas Ellis November 28, 2011 at 9:28 PM

Isolated or not, spitting on someone is unacceptable. It’s also against the law: it’s called assault. We have laws on the books for dealing with such behavior. We should enforce such laws accordingly.

118 Jim November 30, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Mr Ellis is right. The DPW should get the license plate for the car of any person who acts improperly at the transfer station whether it be calling names, spitting or throwing recyclables into the hopper. Those folks should receive a written warning from the BOS that their transfer station privilege will be revoked if the behavior continues. Anyone spitting, etc should be investigated by the Police.

I wonder how many such license tags have been recorded over the years? Has anyone ever been brought before the BOS except for not having a valid tag?

Maybe placing a surveillance camera at the hopper and and at key areas at the transfer station would help deter inappropriate behavior? And no, I do not like surveillance cameras.

119 Steve Phillips December 7, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Just want to mention that the Green Technology and Recycling Committee will be meeting this Thursday, December 8 at 7:30 PM in the lower level meeting room at the Southborough Library. The first item on their agenda is “Discussion of Swap Shop Closing.”

120 Yankee Swap December 7, 2011 at 1:03 PM

As that is a very small room, and if it complies with open meeting laws, at this late date, I would suggest that they at least see if they could move the meeting to the upstairs portion of the library.
If everyone who has posted on this subject is truly interested in being productive, and engaged in the process of keeping the Swap Shop open and improving it’s operation, they should have a good turn out. Putting a name to a petition, or posting on a blog is not all it takes.
The Green Technology and Recycling Committee, should be involved, and instrumental in the decision making and improvement process, and hopefully will be working with the BoS, DPW, and taxpayers as this moves forward. That is why we have boards and committees.
Now, maybe, on a second go around, this can be done the right way.

121 Shocked December 23, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Just catching up on this. I hope the person who spat was arrested or fined. Does anyone know?

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