Transfer Station: Minor changes this year; major changes down the pike? (updated)

by beth on June 23, 2014

Post image for Transfer Station: Minor changes this year; major changes down the pike? (updated)

At last week’s meeting, the Board of Selectmen made minor changes to Transfer Station policies for the new year. But they charged a town committee with digging into possibilities for overhauling the way the town handles trash disposal in the future.

Department of Public Works’ Director Karen Galligan recommended keeping the trash disposal permit pricing the same this year as last.

This year, the sticker fees covered all but about $60K of the $467,000 it cost to run the Transfer Station. And this year she expects only a minor increase in cost.

As in past years, selectman John Rooney urged the board to look at a “pay as you throw” policy.

Selectman Bonnie Phaneuf said she believed that it should be explored by the Public Works Planning Board, working with the Green Committee. Galligan said the PWPB had looked at it a couple of years ago and decided they weren’t interested in moving forward.

Selectmen agreed to reissue the request to the PWPB. The committee will be asked to see what they could learn from other communities experiences. Rooney highlighted Hamilton and Duxbury as successful examples. He also asked that they investigate “getting out of the trash business all together” by moving to curbside pickup.

Selectman Dan Kolenda also asked to look at any communities that adopted the policy then changed back.

For this September, the board voted 4-1 to adopt Galligan’s recommendations. The only pricing changes will be:

  • The date has been moved up for a late fee on stickers to after September 15th. (That is the date 2013 stickers expire. Last year, there was a grace period until October 1st.)
  • If during the year you need to replace a sticker and you don’t have the original sticker, plus it is for a new vehicle with a new plate – it will be charged as a third sticker*.

Regarding that latter policy, Selectman Dan Kolenda pointed out that removing the old sticker is difficult. He asked if people should return a “pile of shavings”. Galligan responded shavings are fine, “We’ll take what we can get out of it to count it”.

Another change is behind the scenes. As policy notes, transfer station violation appeals are heard by the BOS or designee. In the past, appeals have been heard at BOS Meetings.

Going forward, Town Administrator Mark Purple will rule on appeals. At Purple’s request, he will be joined by 1 of the 5 selectmen at each appeal.

The decision was made immediately following a violation appeal at the start of the meeting that night. The BOS ruled against the resident based on video surveillance of the incident. 

Selectman Bonnie Phaneuf followed up on this during regulation discussions. She requested that regulations inform residents they are being filmed rather than causing “Gotcha!” moments.

Chair Bill Boland suggested that letting people know would lead them to avoiding the cameras when breaking rules. Selectman Paul Cimino argued that residents have the right to know and that he would expect it to encourage following rules.

The board agreed to include that “video surveillance may be in effect at Transfer Station”.

Jim Hagerty addressed the board to suggest that the current surveillance is “useless”. He claimed that the camera can’t see license plates of vehicles right in front of the disposal area. He encouraged the board to invest in updating the equipment.

Hagarty estimated that fines imposed to improved surveillance would pay for the upgrade. Galligan said she would look into it.

*Update (8/1/14 10:40 am): In writing about the 2014-15 policies today, I realized I misinterpreted Galligan’s explanation. When she said “third sticker”, I misunderstood, and wrote, as “new sticker”. That’s a major difference, since a 3rd permit only costs $50.

(Photo by Beth Melo)

1 Carl Guyer June 23, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Now this should get some hearts pounding. If we are going to address any alternatives to the way we operate the Transfer Station, we need to look at the validity of giving every household with a resident over 65 years old a free Transfer Station sticker. Just to clear I am in this population. Even so, this is a policy that does not make sense. If you are going to be compassionate and provide economic help to those in need, consider giving free stickers to low income individuals. I support Pay As You Throw, but know, from experience, the free sticker policy to all seniors is a serious obstacle to implementation. I submit that it is biased and unfair.

2 Jjb June 27, 2014 at 7:10 AM

I may be 65+ and get a free transfer sticker but I still pay real estate taxes which support our schools even though I don’t have children attending. Families with children generate more trash than an elderly couple. Give me a break!!!

3 Matthew June 27, 2014 at 11:04 AM

That’s an assumption that opens the door to equally ignorant comments like…
“People over 65 are not familiar with new concepts like recycling so you generate more trash.”
“People over 65 are too feeble to walk across their yard so they are less likely to compost so throw more things out.”
“People over 65 are more like to be retired and eat all meals at home and so generate more trash that a family of five who are gone all day, recycle, and compost.”

BTW – The town also does a crappy job clearly snow from my road but I still pay taxes for that!

4 Job June 28, 2014 at 8:25 AM

What an arrogant ignorant comment!

5 Matthew June 30, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Which one…there have been so many!

6 southsider June 24, 2014 at 1:32 PM

Why not open on Sunday’s from Noon til 6:00pm? Maybe just in the warmer months? How much could it cost to provide that added service to everyone?

7 SB Resident June 24, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Wh-what are you actually suggesting improvements or anything the the tax payers would want to the transfer station?? You must be new here. (I’d be thrilled with just 4-5 on Sundays.)

8 JMO June 24, 2014 at 4:17 PM

I totally agree with Carl. (I am not a senior). I don’t understand the reason seniors without financial need are given a free sticker. Is it possible the seniors are part of a multi-generational household, and the family as a whole benefits? It doesn’t quite seem fair.

It would be helpful to know more about the fines being levied. I know there are cameras, but are they looking for and who are they catching? Is a citation mailed to the house? What are the rules that are being broken? The discussion sounded vague, so that it was difficult to understand exactly what problem they are trying to address.

I am not a fan of pay as you throw. I am a fan of complete town-wide trash and recycling pickup that is factored into property tax. There would have to be some cost savings because the transfer station would not need as much staffing. And, the property tax increase is at least a federal tax deduction unlike the current sticker fee. It would be interesting to understand the cost to the town if there was contracted town-wide trash and recycling pickup with no transfer station option. Let the current trash haulers bid for the town contract.

9 Matthew June 25, 2014 at 8:59 AM

If curbside pickup is being considered then please take a look at a town that uses it and how disgusting their streets are on trash day and how loud the vehicles are and how early they fly around the quiet neighborhoods and the traffic problems they will cause (through the center of town perhaps?).
A trash truck is a giant smelly elephant that will be all over town. But there won’t be just one. There will be a herd of them coming and going and where will they be bringing it? Will we care? I know Casella had spent millions moving into small towns in NH just so they can create waste dumps for trash from Massachusetts. At least now we know it’s being used to create energy.

Can PAYT be done without the town bags? It seems like another thing to manager. Also we will need an increase staff to be sure that folks comply. Perhaps a few seniors could volunteer and earn stickers.

Let’s not forget the recycling trucks that will may even come on a different day!

10 Al Hamilton June 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

I would like to see a recycling only sticker. I use a private hauler but pay for a sticker so I can use the recycling area and swap shop

11 Jerry C. June 25, 2014 at 10:36 AM

I think many people are satisfied with the Transfer station as it exists today, and don’t want to see a change.

There are a lot of benefits; 1: The towns streets are clean (town pickup creates dirty streets), 2: Flexible hours at the transfer station ( if you forget to put the trash out on pickup day, it sits in your garage for another week), 2: Every few months you can do a clean-out of collected stuff and not be limited on the amount, 4: We use the site for a once a year hazardous material collection, 5: The site contains a swap shop and donation center for cans and bottles; both are important to the town and very popular, 6: The site is where the girl scouts, boy scouts, and many other community groups raise money for services in the community, 6: The Transfer station is self funding through stickers (except for $60K), 7: When the transfer station is open, the site indirectly sends business to the mall across the street (people often combine trips; maybe stop at the bank, convenience store and donut shop).

By the way, for what we pay for a sticker, we get a very good value.

12 SB Resident June 25, 2014 at 3:49 PM

While I agree that there a pro’s to TS and you listed a few, I have yet to meet anyone in town (aside from you now) that is completely satisfied with the TS. There is always room for improvement. The problem seems to be although no one is satisfied, there is no unified agreement on what would be better and we have officials who don’t seem like they care about providing a quality service for the people. They treat it solely as a business, providing a just good enough service for the cheapest cost.

Personally, I do like the flexibility of the TS and think there wouldn’t be many who would be against adding some portion of Sunday afternoon even if it meant losing one of the other days’ morning. I also think that as Al suggests, the sticker should be for the compactor only and the Recycling center should be always open to all town residents. I also would be just as happy with curbside pickup. For me that convenience is about an equal trade for the flexibility and other pro’s you suggested.

As an aside, I’ve lived my whole life before living in Southborough in towns with town curbside pickup and the noise/smell/dirty argument is just plain nonsense.

13 jim foley June 25, 2014 at 8:09 PM

I don’t think the smell is nonsense . I work in Marlborough and believe me when the trash truck pulls away there is often a trail of fluid leaking from it. This is one of the worst stenches you can imagine. IT is not always there but is often. The other thing I witness on a regular basis is people digging through the trash barrels looking for cans ,bottles and other treasures. I am sure this I not a problem for the few that have private trash pick up now but it will be when our barrels are all lined up along the road side. I don’t have anything to hide but don’t like the idea of random people digging through my trash. There are always improvements that can be made but over all I think the system we have now is pretty good.

14 JMO July 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Totally agree that noise/smell/dirty argument is nonsense. I also lived in a town that included trash pick-up with town services. Comparing our town to Marlborough doesn’t make sense. Their population is around 32,000 compared to Southbrough’s population of about 9,484. Also, I live on a street where many pay for pick-up and the noise, etc is only noticeable for about 10 minutes a day. It’s inconvenience is no comparison to all the contacted lawn services which hang around a lot longer and come at all hours of the day.

15 Nancy June 25, 2014 at 8:57 PM

Prior to moving to Southborough in 1988, I had always lived in towns that provided curbside pick-up. I was delighted to find out that Southborough had a transfer station where I could bring my garbage/recycling without having to get it out onto the street for pick-up on a certain day, and didn’t have to worry about animals getting into garbage if put out in bags, or lugging barrels down to driveway to the street.

16 Resident June 25, 2014 at 10:27 PM

The schedule for the Transfer Station has never made any sense to me. In the summer especially, if you have a gathering on a Saturday evening, your trash has to stay around on your property until Wednesday, more than three days, rotting, smelling, and encouraging pests such as raccoons, opossums, mice, rats, etc. Why can’t the Transfer Station be open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday if Sunday hours are impossible? It would make MUCH more sense.

17 Barbara June 26, 2014 at 10:04 PM

I think that is a terrible idea if you buy a new car and get a new plate you have to pay for a new sticker. Couldn’t you just have to show a receipt that you turned in your old plates. We pay enough for our original stickers.

18 beth June 26, 2014 at 10:35 PM

You can bring in your old sticker to avoid that. According to Galligan, it’s even OK if it’s a pile of shavings.

It is only if you don’t bring in the old sticker that they treat a new car with new plates as a new sticker.

19 Erin June 27, 2014 at 9:37 AM

I want to once again state that I am against pay as you throw. It is a hassle to buy the bags. It is wasteful because most people will end up double bagging their trash. There are also plenty of items that won’t fit in the bag.

It also does not solve the issue of fairness. As I understand it, the cost of our trash is based on weight, not volume. So one bag from Person A may cost the town more than two bags from Person B.

The benefits I receive from having access to the recycling area and swap shop, as well as being able to get rid of trash any day that they are open, far outweigh any perceived fairness issues. The system isn’t broken. We are only $60,000 away from a solution. Why don’t we just focus on that? If only 2500 residents purchase stickers the additional annual cost would be $24. What am I missing?

I also agree that the hours need to be adjusted, especially in the summer.

20 Carl Guyer June 29, 2014 at 6:47 AM

Erin, you may want to reconsider your opposition to pay per throw. If you are concerned about associating cost of waste disposal with the waste individuals bring to the transfer station, when you consider the current system of everyone paying the same sticker price for unlimited disposal right, you will find your stated dislike for pay per throw is actually an argument for pay per throw.

21 Erin July 2, 2014 at 12:15 PM

It seems like almost everyone is happy with the current system for trash disposal and recycling, except for a desire for additional hours. If the problem that we are trying to solve is that the transfer station should have a single source of funding and that funding should come from the people who use it, then why not simply increase the cost of the sticker and move on with our lives. Surely the time saved could be spent on more pressing issues and budgetary matters.

I have lived in a pay as you throw community and I disliked it for the reasons that I have already stated. Also, how much time and money are we willing to waste on policies and procedures for pay as you throw?

What if your stuff doesn’t fit in the bag? How much will each bag cost? What color will the bag be? What logo will we use? Will we have more than one size of bag? Will we use bags made form recycled materials? Does the bag have to be completely tied close, or can we fill it to the brim? Who will enforce this? Where will residents be able to buy the bags? Can anyone from any town buy bags and throw their garbage away at the transfer station? Do we still need stickers?

The only trash system that I have used that comes close to balancing fairness with ease of use is one where everyone has trash pickup and your cost is associated with the size of your trash can – small, medium, large. Any overages to your can are billed at an additional cost.

But why would we do either of these things? People like the recycling area and the can donation and the swap shop. Want trash pickup? You’re welcome to contract services privately. Works for me.

22 southsider June 27, 2014 at 2:25 PM

C’mon Selectmen.
I know that at least some of you read this blog. Floating the idea of a schedule change in TS hours seemed to resonate with the commenters here.
One of you should step up and sponsor a small extension of Summer hours and provide some Sunday service.
It seems to me that the appreciation you’d receive for doing something that would benefit so many of us would far outweigh the minimal costs.
Or could the DPW Director do this on her own? Such a simple, easy way to win back a few admirers perhaps?

23 Job July 1, 2014 at 6:23 PM

Your comments re: 65

24 Trixie July 2, 2014 at 6:58 PM

I agree with Erin regarding PAYT. I like the system we have now, even with the limited hours. I would like to know is anyone still fining sticker scofflaws? I saw a pickup there today dumping a load and I did not see a sticker. Do the cameras pick that up? Should I take a picture and send it to the DPW? Are any fines being collected? Its been ages since I’ve seen a police officer parked at the TS promoting compliance.

25 JMO July 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM

I also people there without stickers. No one seems to care. I am wondering where the transfer station costs are coming from. Is it really from disposal? Or, is it the cost of staffing the transfer station? The last stat I saw stated $72 a ton. That doesn’t seem like a lot. Does every sticker owner really dispose of a couple of tons of garbage a year, with the recycling and Swap Shop? Is there a budget breakdown available somewhere?

26 concerned_resident July 3, 2014 at 6:28 AM

Ah, yes…. the perennial issue – what to do about the transfer station policies. You know the great minds of our fair town are working overtime when new ideas are floated about what to do…. we live in vexing times, indeed.

So indulge me and let me weigh in. The ‘shiny object’ question is always ‘permit vs PAYT’. Personally my life is already bursting with time sucking nuisances…. I don’t need even one more like PAYT.

I would suggest that we look at the bigger picture, and I mean literally. Go to Google Map and look at the layout of the ENTIRE transfer station area. While I love trees, I view the TS as a utility area, not a place to picnic. So I would like to see an independent (maybe citizen committee) proposal to better utilize the space. Please lets have Karen Gallagher focus on ‘receiving permit shavings’ and not have myopic viewpoints kill new ideas right off the bat. (seems that any idea that come out of our DPW folks is directly linked to reducing their work, not improving services. Remember that’s why they call it ‘work’).

Cut some trees, move that tiny sheds to a location that would promote better traffic flow (why were they stuffed into the corner of the property?), consider adding other services that ‘visitors’ to our de facto social center would benefit from. Information center, quasi-permanent snack shack…. what a concept… eat a muffin, buy a coke and have proceeds go to reduce sticker prices for retired folks. But mostly EXPAND the Swap Shop space… better partition items … good kid toys and furnishings, household items, electronics, decorations, books, and even a clothing consignment shop — no item more than $2. etc. Finally we really should be better connecting with outside charities to transition some useful stuff…. especially baby and kids items for young families who are struggling in the Metrowest area. You can see them out there right? I can. Oh, also, how about a robust ‘virtual swap shop’ volunteer managed that ties it all together….. This TS of ours is an important ‘de facto’ glue that holds us together. If it were only about disposing of trash, I’d be dumping my bags in my neighbors yard under the cloak of darkness…. I am only kidding LOL… except for one neighbor maybe… just kidding, argh argh.. thanks!

27 Al Hamilton July 3, 2014 at 7:52 AM

Interesting thoughts.

How about a “Town Services Gazebo”. On Sat there could be an employee from Town Hall who could provide you with a Dog License, Dump Sticker, Register to Vote, Get Paperwork for a Building Permit, Fishing License, Burning Permit etc.

This could be a fair weather only service from 9:00 to 2:00. To start we could try this with a simple table, filing cabinet, chair and a big umbrella. Of course the real challenge is to get various departments to cooperate.

28 Pat Q. July 7, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Al, you are joking, right?

29 Al Hamilton July 8, 2014 at 8:32 AM


Actually, I am quite serious but it will never happen. It would require a modern vision of customer service to accomplish.

Town Hall operates on the best 1920’s department store model money can buy. restricted hours of operation, specific service, at specific counters, no cross training. It is an inefficient, expensive, and inconvenient business model that has bee obsolete for at least half a century.

If you go to town Hall on a Sat morning you will find it shuttered, Same if you go there Friday afternoon. Go to the Clerks office and ask about a dump sticker and you will be sent to the DPW. Ask about a burning permit and you will be sent to the Fire Dept.

Contrast that with the service you get at a Home Depot or Lowes. If you ask an employee who is stocking the shelves in lumber an electrical question he or she will walk you over to the specific place where your needs can be met or find the electrical person to help you. To contrast even more think about Amazon.

Nothing is actually going to change but when you next take time off from work because you need to go to town hall, when you enter the building think of it as a trip to the Museum of Obsolete Organizational Structures. Admission is free (sort of)

30 Matthew July 9, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Probably should have put that out there as a campaign promise. You would have certainly received more votes. Mine included.

31 Mark Ford July 3, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Like Al, I think this is a kernel of a great idea…let’s use the de facto town gathering point for something other than petitions and car washes. Makes a lot of sense. Great amusing post, too, btw….

32 David Parry July 4, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Frequent flippers.
If you spend all day there, you will notice a remarkable phenomenon. The Swap shop is literally a supply warehouse for a very few residents. On a Saturday they are there every 2 hours minimum… so a total of 4 to 5 times on one day, most days.. At first I got into conversations with these people, about how large their basements must be, or how huge their family must be…. but by the 3rd visit I realized it was not for their personal use, but reselling, big time. Then I noticed how they took MOST of the good stuff, so the other people were disappointed finding nothing interesting.

I would say there 4 to 7 such mass collectors. But they take a huge proportion of the good items …. anything that can be re-sold. Even books.

Our swap shop operation could be so much better. But this practice of frequent flippers, or whatever you call them, does have positive and negative effects. Some residents seem annoyed about it and made various suggestions …..Frequency limits.. ..potential profit to town ….etc .

The complaints i heard about the actual swap shop location , size, internal layout,or lack thereof and basic organisation …are another matter entirely. We have done OK for many years with this shed. But a visit to other towns makes you realize how it could be so much better. It has become such an important institution.

Comments on the “frequent flippers” ? Pro or con. ?

33 Kate July 8, 2014 at 7:20 AM

No problem with this at all (I’ve gotten a couple of beautiful Crate & Barrel rugs myself, so I know there are great finds to be had). Perhaps the frequent flippers could contribute to the blog & explain their process so we can all could get in on the act…

34 Jonas July 6, 2014 at 3:48 PM

PAYT is nothing more then another town tax. The residents who recycle will continue to do so and those who haven’t adopted by 2014 will not start when PAYT goes into effect. An immediate impact would be to put a couple recycling bins down where the main hopper is. It would alleviate some of the congestion on “Recycling Row” from the myriad backups and waiting.

35 Ann L. July 7, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Regarding people who visit the swap shop multiple times a day, so what? You drop an item off for others to make use of it, how they choose to do that is no one’s business..

36 Just Curious July 8, 2014 at 1:36 AM

I disagree with Ann L. When I drop items off at the swap shop, I hope the items will be reused by my neighbors, especially neighbors who have fallen on tough times. I do not intend for some “sharpies” in town to manipulate the system and take and resell the items.

That is exactly why I have extra children’s bicycles sitting in my garage although my family has no use for them. I refuse to leave them at the swap shop so the “sharpie” who lives on Southville Rd can take them and sell them. I am trying to find a place where I can bring these bicycles so some child can benefit.

Just my 2 cents.

37 Mark Ford July 8, 2014 at 9:05 AM

I’m assuming that if someone feels the need to spend their Saturday scoping out the Swap Shop, they could use the $$…though I understand your sentiment.

38 Al Hamilton July 8, 2014 at 9:49 AM

So, lets see about the options here:

1. Leave used and unwanted bicycles in your garage where no child gets the benefit.

2. Leave them at the Swap Shop where someone might take and resell them to a willing buyer where presumably a child will get the benefit.

So in once case nobody benefits and you are burdened with unwanted junk and in the other case, 3 people benefit, you get rid of your junk, someone makes a little money, and a child gets a bike.

39 SB Resident July 8, 2014 at 3:43 PM

You are assuming that the bikes are junk, they are not, they have value. You missed the benefit in his option is that he maintains that value.

I have a basement full of things of value that I won’t drop off at the swap shop as well. The point is to give the object of value to the needy for free, doing this he gets some moral/mental value in exchange for the value in the bike. In your model, he gets less value from the transaction because the “sharpie” is getting most of it.

40 Steve Phillips July 8, 2014 at 7:05 PM

This is a minor problem which could easily be fixed by eliminating a loophole in the rules. Instead of the 15-minute-per-trip limit we have now, with an unlimited number of trips per day, why not just limit parking to 15 minutes per trip up to a total of 45 or 60 minutes per day? This doesn’t mean you’d have to stand out there with a stop watch all day to monitor everyone. Instead you would have a simple tool you could use to maintain a level of sharing and fairness among residents. If DPW employees see that someone’s hanging around all day, they can give them a warning or a ticket and the problem will be solved, just like that. After all, it’s not like they’re afraid to hand out tickets over there.

My recent observation has been that the swap shop is usually just about empty especially on weekdays, because the crew seems to be doing a far more indiscriminate job of just shoveling everything into the loader a few times a day. I’m sure you tend to get jaded when all you see is the junk everyone else leaves behind, but in my opinion there is a lot more reusable stuff going from the swap shop straight into the hopper than there used to be.

I support the current transfer station organization and strongly oppose pay-per-throw. Everyone I know who’s lived with it says that pay-per-throw ends up costing way more in the end, and it is a huge inconvenience as well. Aside from the limited hours, the transfer station is easy and convenient. Why fix what isn’t broken?

41 Just Curious July 9, 2014 at 12:15 AM


You missed the last sentence in my post ” I am trying to find a place where I can bring these bicycles so some child can benefit.”

Taking these bikes and selling them is like someone taking free bottles of water and them reselling them when all the free bottles are gone. Will someone buy a bottle when they have no or little choice? Sure. Is that right? Nope.

I will try to find a better way to share these bicycles that brought so much joy to my children. It just irks me that a very small minority of people in town are gaming the system. On the other hand, I am grateful to live in a community with so many wonderful and caring people.

The swap shop should be run on the honor system. If you need it, take it. Not, if you can make a fast buck, grab it before someone with a true need comes along. That may be someone’s legal right, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

42 Al Hamilton July 9, 2014 at 10:11 AM

I guess we just see the world differently. When I bring my unwanted items to the Swap Shop I am happy if anyone is able to use them in any way. If they make money selling them on ebay that is fine with me. I am happy that I got junk out of my house and someone else benefited. Period.

43 Ann L. July 8, 2014 at 11:03 AM

It is also my hope that someone who really needs an item I drop off will benefit from it, but I also understand once I leave the item it is beyond my control.

44 Trixie July 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Regarding the bikes – I have had good luck getting rid of sports equipment on Craigslist. There is also Freecycle, the Salvation Army (Savers) and local church and school fairs if you want to donate. At this stage in my life, I’m just really trying to get rid of stuff and clean my basement.

45 Resident July 9, 2014 at 9:02 AM

I have to agree that the idea of individuals trolling the swap shop and reselling stuff does bother me. So does the idea of DPW employees moving stuff to the hopper sooner than they should. In fact, this second problem bothers me the most and does not surprise me, considering the caliber of our DPW director. If I bring something to the swap shop it is because it still has use and I don’t want it contributing to global warming by being incinerated. For both of these reasons, I am tending NOT to bring things to the swap shop these days.

Perhaps the swap shop should have a bulletin board where people can post an item that they wish to give directly to another Southborough resident for their use. I don’t think that “trollers” would be so bold as to contact the owners and pretend to be in need of the item.

46 Al Hamilton July 9, 2014 at 1:17 PM

There is a service that will do just that it is called Freecycle. I have disposed of a few items that way.

47 Carl Guyer July 7, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Well hasn’t this been funny. By pushing two buttons, free 65+ dump stickers and PAYT, I have managed to make this specific article have more comments that the Main Street makeover. These issues are linked. Take away the free 65+ stickers and we would instantly have new converts to PAYT idea. Some may look at the Transfer Station as a town service for convenient disposal of unwanted materials, others like myself see it as an automated process to facilitate the continued degrading of the environment. Take away the convenience and make individuals responsible for their actions, you slow down destroying of the environment. But that is not a message most want to hear.

48 Just Curious July 8, 2014 at 1:43 AM

Carl has a point about a message we do not want to hear.

Here’s a thought. We simply take the cost of the transfer station and add it to the tax rate so those of us who own homes in town can take a federal tax deduction.

Issue every NON-COMMERCIAL vehicle in town a sticker so they can use the transfer station, swap shop, whatever.

Some might argue that the free sticker for over 65 issue is simply pandering to a group of people who tend to vote in elections. Some might say they use less town services. Whatever. Just add it to the tax rate and get over it.

On a related topic, I have not seen one ticket/citation issued to anyone for throwing recyclables in the hopper. Maybe the DPW folks do not want to issue citations or report those who need citations. Maybe people should get a written warning in the mail? We probably do not need the BOS to send a police officer to their home, unless….. Just kidding.

49 Mark Ford July 8, 2014 at 9:09 AM

My brother lives in Derry, NH, where they have a “bag inspector” who makes random appearances, slices open your trash bags as you dump them, and will issue a fine if you’re in violation of their recycle policy. Yowza!

50 Matthew July 9, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Is there a consultant we can pay lots of money to to get a master plan for the dump? Sheds appear like the measles, cameras appear but can’t read plates, I still see commercial vehicles with pickup truck loads going into the hopper. I strongly believe it IS broken or at least so dysfunctional that most are happy to get what they can from it.

Perhaps Karen’s office should be moved up to where the action is and have a little window so she can see and be seen. Might also be used for DPW transactions, along the lines of what Al has suggested.

On the subject of flippers or folks that frequent the swap shop multiple times a day; you CANNOT criticize the citizens of Southborough for these action without also looking at the employees of the dump. They are there all day and pick through the stuff as much as anyone else, store it in their office in the same building as the swap shop. Either this activity is ignored and those that are unsatisfied find another avenue to donate(of which there are too many to list) or you stop complaining and use the swap shop and metal section as they were intended – places to put things that are too good for the hopper. Turn away if the reality of someone wanting what you have left is too much to bare.

If any action needs to be taken it should be to stop the Saturday afternoon dumping of yard sale leftovers. That has to account for half the “donations” and 90% of what gets thrown out. But what I can see as possibly the biggest problem is caused by the citizens of Southborough and not any incompetence of the facility or it’s director.
How about a policy that states “No boxes or tubs and no more than 10 items dropped off at a time.”

The free 65+ stickers exist as a small perk to a growing minority of citizens who contribute $$ to our biggest tax burden but do not use it. You want them to leave and have their small 3 bedroom be replaced by two mini mansions each with 2.3 kids and a few dogs? It’s happening all over town already.
If you want to know where our town and every other town is going then think to a time in the not too distant future when there will be no more new construction, when we are filled up and the cost of town services continue to rise.

Remember the line in the Matrix given by Agent Smith about his observation of humanity?
“I´d like to share a revelation that I´ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realized that you’re not actually mammals.
Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way can survive is to spread to another area.

There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we… are the cure.”

(To Jjb and Job – please do not think that I am Agent Smith or that I am going to “cure” you. This is a quote from a movie. It’s science fiction and cannot possibly happen in real life. :) )

51 bob ackley July 9, 2014 at 9:53 AM

I have been to most of the dumps and transfer stations in eastern Massachusetts conducting methane research and green waste recycling bids. The town of Wellesley has one of the most progressive facilities in the nation with a huge swap area, drive through recycling / trash bins and an onsite green waste composting facility. The town should be offering more services and charging commercial users. The current facility is an accident waiting to happen where every vehicle is required to back up twice to get rid of trash and recyclables. I sent this to the BOS last year and never heard back. The town should be making money…not losing.

Southborough Transfer Station

We are at a crossroads regarding our handling of unwanted items within our town. Household trash, recyclables, construction debris, vegetation waste, clean fills and unwanted usable items etc. all need a place to go. We have ample capacity to solve all these needs by expanding the transfer station to a full service recycling and waste handling facility. By investing in a suitable infrastructure to handle our community needs, we could also offer these same services to the business community. It is well known that local business people are utilizing the transfer station under their current residential sticker and do so out of convenience and need. Many of these businesses would gladly pay a fee for this convenience but have been “slipping” massive amounts of construction debris, wood products and green waste into our facility.
The transfer station needs to address this issue. The “hopper” should only take bagged household trash. All other items need to be placed in suitable vessels as some already are ie: plastic, can, glass bin, cardboard bin, newspaper bin.
All other items require a fee structure for dumping ie: construction debris, green waste, metal and clean fill. Additionally we could have two step fee structure where residents pay one price and businesses pay another price.
In regards to green waste
We should have a green waste composting site (Beals property etc..) where green waste (leaves, brush, grass clippings), could be dumped, ground and wind rowed for composting. Residents would be able to get free compost and excess compost could be sold. We could also allow private companies to dump here for a fee.
In regards to clean fill
Concrete block bins should be made available to handle clean dirt, concrete, asphalt and stone. We already need this for our own municipal use. Residents and businesses would be allowed to dump for a fee and the town DPW could handle disposal when needed.
In regards to security
Cameras can be installed at each site to record license plate what is dumped. We have the technology at reasonable cost to record everything.
We should be able to increase services to our community and lower operating deficits by charging appropriate dumping fees to local businesses. With surveillance cameras in place, we really would not have to increase personnel costs. The dumping fees will add substantial revenue that will lower overall costs to the town.

Bob Ackley

52 Just Curious July 9, 2014 at 9:35 PM


Yours is one of the very best pots I have read! Excellent!

Would you consider serving on the Green Technology and Recycling Committee? There are currently 2 vacancies. Also, I believe there is another committee that oversees or advised DPW. That would seem to be a great fit for someone with your talents.

Thank you!

53 Concerned_resident July 17, 2014 at 7:45 AM

Hi Bob,

I wholeheartedly agree with ‘Just Curious’ regarding your post. You present (succinctly) a number of practical approaches to key issues relating to the Transfer Station operations. I also would encourage you to take a leadership role on the ‘SB Green Technology and Recycling Committee’. I bet with your leadership, thoughtful ideas, and concerted support from the SB community (there are many like me and JC who support you), the TS issues (wasteful policies… illegal commercial dumping practices … high fees and under-utilized facility space) would be addressed head-on…. something progressive may come from your involvement. THANKS!

As for our current leader, Dept of Public Works’ Director Karen Galligan, would you please take a few minutes to craft a response to Bob’s proposals and any other SPECIFIC ideas listed in this thread. I am sure others would be keenly interested in hearing YOUR views on these ideas. thank you in advance.

Finally, to Beth Melo … thank you (again) for your diligent work to keep this important community website up and running. I would suggest that we keep this particular thread going until a clear plan to address the issues is in place. This thread is chock full of key issues and good ideas…. let’s not let them just disappear into the ‘interweb ether’ without something to show for the combined effort of the posters. merci beaucoup

54 metrowest99 July 16, 2014 at 7:41 PM

Just reading this article now. Being a few years new to Southborough, I have never heard of, read of ,or listened to much controversy surrounding the town dump! (yes I know…Transfer Station) I for one feel fortunate to this facility. I like being able to take my trash, recyclables or yard debris there and getting rid of it. I know people who have trash pick up, if that works for you that’s great, but I like what I have. If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, mess with it or tweak it! The problem is that too many people want it their way. Some people say my taxes are high enough and I don’t have kids around anymore so I don’t have much trash, why should I pay more?, well its Southborough, has a nice name to it and with a nice name you get nice things such as the Transfer Station which some “not nice communities” do not have. Big family, small family, the transfer station is there if you need to use it plain and simple. 1 bag of trash a week or multiple bags of trash-the transfer station is there if you need it. I am sure down the road they will figure out things that make it more progressive. But I am just here to say I like the place and I find it very useful. Have a good day everyone!

55 Linda Hubley July 16, 2014 at 11:07 PM

Gee, I wonder how Moultonborough NH does it for $20.00 They’re set up similar to ours with the recycling, transfer station etc. but wait, that $20 is for TWO years and INCLUDES a BEACH permit. I for one like the transfer station as is, taxes should include our trash too, not just schools, police, fire, roads and water, not everyone uses each/all those services.

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