Burlington has developed a littering problem during the pandemic that has gotten so severe it was the subject of discussion at the Board of Selectmen.
DPW Director John Sanchez was before the board regarding the four dumpsters located at Town Hall. In addition to recycling containers provided to each household in Burlington, the dumpsters are a convenience the town provides for disposing of cardboard.
For the most part, residents have been good about the upkeep and obeying the sign posted to not leave cardboard or trash outside the containers. However, with the pandemic there’s been an uptick in package delivery from Amazon and the like, leaving people with large amounts of cardboard to discard. Unfortunately, this has led to cardboard and trash being left all around the dumpsters once they are full according to Sanchez.
“Mountains of cardboard strewn along the parking lot, in addition to trash which residents have also left behind next to the dumpsters,” Sanchez told the board.
During the holidays the dumpsters were emptied every day and the DPW still found themselves having to post pictures on social media regarding the mess. That littering has regrettably become an issue in town and all the talk on the Burlington Residents Facebook.
So disenchanted was Selectmen Bob Hogan, he suggested possibly having the dumpsters taken away.
Sanchez informed the board that eliminating the dumpsters is not an option right now as people have large amounts of cardboard to dispose of. Sanchez said he has spoken with Burlington Police Chief Kent about arranging signage regarding the littering, and making the crime a finable offense.
Selectmen Nick Priest addressed the cost of littering to the community with the DPW having to be bothered picking up trash and cardboard, delaying DPW staff from other projects.
“It’s a convenience that they’re there at all,” Priest noted.
Priest backed the notion to take action on people misusing the dumpsters and litter illegally.
Selectmen Jim Tigges suggested possibly relocating the dumpsters to one the DPW’s new facilities where they can be kept a better eye on.
“Keep a good thing going and keep people from abusing it,” said Tigges.
Fencing around the containers was also suggested however Sanchez spoke from his experience in other communities; that just leads people to leave their trash and cardboard at the gate.
Selectmen Mike Runyan expressed his chagrin at the whole situation.
“It’s shameful we even have to have a discussion about this for the small portion of people actually doing this,” said Runyan.
Town Administrator Paul Saragrino noted some of the cardboard left outside the dumpster still had the mailing address labels on them.
“So we are aware of some of the folks who haven’t been following the rules. Most of them were Burlington residents,” Sagarino said.
Sanchez told the board the DPW doesn’t wish to get rid of the program.
“It just needs a little bit more enforcement,” said Sanchez.
The issue will be put on the agenda for the next Board of Selectmen meeting where they hope to find the best way to proceed.