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Trustees discuss future of spring cleanup in village of Massena

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MASSENA - The village’s annual spring cleanup report once again turned into a discussion about whether to continue to program, which allows residents to place garbage curb side for free pickup by village employees.

“It’s my opinion that it’s become a service to landlords,” Mayor James F. Hidy said, noting he witnessed one property that houses two apartments where “50 mattresses” and “five or six TVs” were placed curb side for pickup.

“I’m not a proponent of this, particularly when I see what I’ve seen in the Grove area and over on Orvis Street,” Mr. Hidy said.

According to a report put together by Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad, costs for the program this year increased 21 percent or $12,716.37 from last year’s total of $58,661.39 to $71,377.76.

Mr. Hidy said prior to the cleanup he was expecting it to cost the village roughly $70,000.

“I was $1,000 off from what I predicted,” he said.

Mr. Fayad said the cleanup used 845 man hours, with labor costs totaling more than $30,000 of the project’s total costs.

That’s something Trustee Francis J. Carvel said the village should keep in mind, should they ever decide to eliminate the program.

“That’s two weeks of salaries that aren’t taken from the general fund,” Mr. Carvel said. “That’s 4 percent, you’ll have to add back to the general fund for salaries and benefits.”

And while that may be the case, Mr. Hidy said the village could do that and would still finish ahead.

“It still costs us money,” Mr. Hidy said.

Code Enforcement Officer Ken McGowan said this year the village’s code office issued “50 or 60” violations to people who were putting out items that would not be collected and leaving them by road once the cleanup was complete.

Given the time frame of the cleanup and when people typically place their garbage by the roadside, Mr. Hidy said the village needs to come up with a better way to inform people of potential violations.

“If you send someone a letter saying they’ve put it out too early, by the time they get the letter it’s cleaned up,” he said.

Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld suggested giving the program another shot next year, but coming up with some ways to try to regulate it.

“We could pass a law that if people are abusing this we pound them,” he said, suggesting fines of $500 or $1,000 for people who place trash out too early, people who place out trash that will not be collected and people who bring in trash from out of town.

That is a problem that Mr. Hidy said he witnessed first hand this year, with a pickup truck dropping off garbage at a property in the village.

“We got their license plate,” Mr. Hidy said, adding he suspects the person was working for a landlord who also had properties outside the village.

“It’s just gotten way out of hand,” he said.

Trustees Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies agreed.

“You try to be good to everyone, but people always take advantage it,” he said, suggesting the village take an approach similar to the town’s.

“We should try to work something out with the dump,” he said, explaining people, on certain days,” could be allowed to bring garbage to the dump, prove they’re a resident of the village, and drop it off for free.

Mr. Carvel said he is worried that if the village does do away with the cleanup program that garbage will just end up in people’s backyards or along rural roads outside the village.

“Where is it going to end up?” he asked. “People aren’t going to take it the dump.”

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