With closure looming, Selectmen to discuss Swap Shop on Tuesday

The Swap Shop’s stay of execution is nearing an end. The popular leave-it-take-it shop at the Transfer Station is slated to close on Saturday. Selectmen will discuss the shop and its impending closure at their meeting on Tuesday.

The decision to close the shop was made back in November. A strong public outcry caused selectmen to delay the closure from the originally-scheduled December 1 to the currently-scheduled January 7.

DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan made the decision to close the Swap Shop because of ongoing abuse and because the shop has outgrown its current space. In a memo to selectmen, Galligan said residents camping out at the Swap Shop cause traffic issues. Some leave items that really belong in the hopper that DPW employees then have to dispose of. She also said a handful of residents have been rude to DPW employees as they attempt to manage the area.

Selectmen unanimously backed Galligan’s decision to close the Swap Shop.

Since the decision was announced, Southborough residents have voiced their displeasure on this blog and elsewhere around town. A petition to keep the shop open was signed by 700 residents. Former Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf gathered up enough signatures to get the issue on the warrant at Town Meeting in April.

Tuesday’s meeting will be the first opportunity for residents to share their opinions and suggestions directly with the Board of Selectmen. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm, with the Swap Shop on the agenda for 7:30 pm. The meeting, which is held in the Hearing Room on the second floor of the Town House, is open to the public.

So, who out there is planning on going to the meeting? What do you want to tell the selectmen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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11 years ago

Isn’t it time we looked at replaceing Karen Galligan. She seems to lack what it takes to be a take charge kind of person. Things seem to be going down hill since Mr Boland left. Projects seem to take forever, roads are in disarray, employees seem to be unhappy and not getting her backing. Operating the department reactively instead on proactively. Close the swap shop instead of offering solutions to the problem??????? The selectman should talk to the DPW employees to get a better understanding of what is going on at the DPW. I did and the picture seems clear.

John Boiardi
11 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

Replace Karen Galligan! You should attend budget meetings or BofS meetings when she is asked to respond to budget or operational questions. She is sharp and knowledgable about budget or operational issues. She is the best prepared of all major department heads. It would be a foolish mistake to replace her.

Following the blog on the issue of closing the swap shop is misleading. There is no question that the townspeople want to keep it open. The vaste majority of comments address that. Very few comments address the issue that prompted the proposed closing. People leaving non-swappable junk outside the building, people taking up parking spaces for lengths of time to scoure the shop, people without dump stickers using our tax payer supported transfer station etc. etc.

I hope that the hearing tonight addresses the issues on why the directive to close the swap shop.

carrie alpert
11 years ago
Reply to  John Boiardi

i agree John, i believe that there are troubling issues that the workers themselves were the direct targets of physical and verbal abuse. There needs to be an absolute zero tolerance policy for that, non negotiable.

the issues surrounding leaving non-swappable items needs to be addressed, *absolutely* as does people taking up parking spaces for excessive periods of time.
the swap shop is not a store or a dumping ground and the workers must feel overwhelmed–once again it is not a strip mall.

Steve Phillips
11 years ago
Reply to  John Boiardi

How exactly is the issue of cars without stickers caused by the swap shop? Isn’t this a sign that somebody at the DPW isn’t doing his or her job? As I understand it, Transfer Station employees are currently empowered to issue $250 citations for sticker violations, and $100 citations for violations of other transfer station rules. If sticker violations are not being enforced, this is a failure of management at the transfer station, not an indictment of the swap shop.

As for people taking up parking spaces, there has never been any posted rule limiting time in these spaces until after the initial decision to close the swap shop was made. Now that there is a posted time limit, town employees are free to issue $100 citations to habitual campers.

In addition to a small set of rules which would be enforced by DPW employees, I would suggest that we should entrust a group of Southborough residents (NOT town employees), such as the Recycling and Green Technology committee, to develop a voluntary code of conduct for the swap shop. A voluntary code could address issues of courtesy, sharing, neatness etc. without requiring an onerous set of new rules at the transfer station.

Regardless of what you read in the newspapers, Southborough residents, by and large, are responsible and courteous people who are surely capable of maintaining peace and order in the swap shop.

SB Resident
11 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

I agree with you Jeff, but I tie my expectations to pay. I tried to research what her salary is, but I couldn’t find Southborough public employees salaries on the web.

11 years ago

Karen Galligan does back her employees, which I have witnessed first hand. She makes tough decisions, which may not always be the popular vote but are in the best interest in the town as a whole. It amazes me how folks make such comments without knowing the whole story.

11 years ago

Weak, and in my opinion a simpleminded response. Crazy thing is I was just at the Transfer Station Saturday and saw nothing at all about this (let alone any egregious behavior). Has there really continued to be a problem after instituting the 15 minute parking limit?

I doubt I’ll be able to make the meeting, but if this was such an ongoing problem per Police Chief Jane Moran’s comments (related here in November) why did it just this winter come to a head? For folks being jerks, a community-driven (cameraphone-pic?) name & shame would have been my first response.

Spitting and abuse of employees is just plain assault. Get their license plate and hit them with charges; revoke their transfer station permit and slap them with extra-jerk-re-instatement fees.

The worst thing about the transfer station for me are the hours. 08.00-18.00 is horrible for commuters, meaning that Saturday gets busier. I’m sure there’d be higher staff costs, but has anyone looked at opening fewer days with longer hours, 06.00-20.00?

Jessica Rosenthal
11 years ago

I will most definitely be at the meeting tomorrow! I am looking forward to witnessing all sides of the story with the rest of the public, and hopefully help encourage the Board to rethink the closure once they can come to an informed decision as well. While I am not sure what I would like to say to the Board yet, I will definitely write some things down tonight and I look forward to hearing from others tomorrow.

11 years ago

Don’t we have more important issues in town than whether or not to close the Swap Shop, which obviously is the residents’ choice to stay open?

Why don’t you ban or arrest the folks that cause trouble? Aren’t there cameras there to prevent out of towners from frequenting the place?

I would suggest that people not dump everything they own in the place an hour before closing on Saturday, as it just creates more work for the guys who work there, who then have to bring it back down to the hopper. Another suggestion: call some of the charities that have stores to see if they want to come on Sat (or anytime before opening on Wed) and take what they want for their stores, and then clean out the shop.

11 years ago

I agree with Jeff…I have been saying right along as the DWP superentendents EMPLOYER I am not happy with her work. She may back her employees but at the end of the day she works for the TAX PAYERS. Find someone that can do the job and work with all parites. This “solution” as she calls it will only increase what we have to pay to haul away and add more to our human foot print waist.

Closing it is not the solution…..it is only creating a bigger over all problem. People will NO longer want to stop and recycle anything and just dump all the trash into the hopper. The swap Shop is part of the lure of recycling at our transfer station.

We will try to make the meeting for sure.

11 years ago

Please everyone stop bashing the workers if you are unhappy with their performance approch them kindly an try to work out the problems. I am a lifelong resident of the town an have witness many changes good an bad, closing the swap shop is defnitely a wrong decsion. I have gone there on Saturday an seen the long lines but it eventually moves. Also I have witness first hand people without stickers using the transfer station this should defnitely be enforces.. We have an outstanding police department, so if there is abuse pick up the phone call an it will be handled properly.
Enough lets concentrate on other important issues.

11 years ago
Reply to  Jan

I, too, noticed people without stickers using the transfer station. On one occasion I pointed it out to one of the DPW workers and he replied something similar to, oh that’s {Name forgotten}, it’s okay, he must be using someone else’s car. What am I supposed to take away from that exchange? Personally, I don’t know why dump sticker fees are not rolled into the taxes. The town could issue one for every car registered in the town. And, I might add, at least property taxes are a deduction on the federal tax form if you itemize.

carrie alpert
11 years ago

confetti thrown for your comments Jan! it is a transfer station not the Natick Collection and if you have an issue with a fellow human being try doing what is becoming a dying art and that is conversing kindly and with decency. My husband was completely and utterly left speechless when he first heard that there was even a situation going on (admittedly he is the one who goes to the transfer station he has the truck) He has chatted with those who work there on several occasions and honestly has never witnessed any negativity.
have we really reached a point where we are willing to shut down something that is necessary for so many individuals in the town over the inability to communicate?

Steve Phillips
11 years ago

The DPW has been neglecting the swap shop for years, and now they are blaming the victims — Southborough residents and taxpayers — by trying to close it. Why are there no tables or shelves in that room, so that all items have to be left on the floor or outside? Why aren’t the lights in that room turned on when it gets dark? Why is everything left on a Saturday just shoveled into the hopper, leaving the swap shop barren until the next Saturday?

And please, I would like to see an itemization of all of these supposed issues of “physical and verbal abuse.” In all of my visits to the swap shop, the only verbal abuse I have ever witnessed came directly from the DPW superintendent as she attempted to evict a town resident who was collecting signatures to keep the swap shop open.

We have problems at our swap shop which need to be addressed, but I for one am not going to stand around idly while our selectmen and town employees attempt to demonize the citizens of our town. This conduct is outrageous and unacceptable.

chas scott
11 years ago
Reply to  Steve Phillips

I have been going to the swap shop with my grand son and he loves the place as I do also, I have never seen any problems while at the shop and think it is up to the public that pays taxes not town officals to close something that we all want to stay open.

Southside Gadsden Flyer
11 years ago

I will be at the meeting tonight..wonder if it will be standing room only? I’m planning on arriving for 7, just in case they move the slated time slot for the Swap Shop discussion.

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