Chatham ponders law to keep lid on can concerns

CHATHAM–­­The Town Board wants to hear from residents about garbage collection. At the regular meeting Thursday, November 21, the board discussed how to deal with garbage cans left out after pickup and complaints that County Waste, a private garbage hauler that collects from residents, does not pick up waste on schedule.

The board also approved the $121,733 budget for the Chatham Rescue Squad. Board members Bob Balcom and Henry Swartz, along with Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea, met with the squad in hopes of developing a clearer view of the organization’s expenses.

At the board meeting, Mr. Rappleyea said squad members talked about the expense of equipment and medical items like EpiPen (epinephrine), which needs to be on all the ambulances at a cost of over $100 each.

Mr. Balcom said he learned at the meeting that the squad has $151,000 in unpaid service bills. He said the squad takes care of residents whether or not they paid.

Mr. Swartz did not attend the Thursday night meeting, but town Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt said Mr. Swartz had told him he supports the squad’s budget after the meeting with squad members.

As for the garbage issue, Supervisor DeGroodt said, “I just find it so sticky, I don’t know what to do.”

The board discussed creating a town law about how long trash cans may be left at the curb by property owners. But board member Maria Lull said that the issue for her neighbors is their claim that trash is not being picked up on the day the company said it would be. She said the proposed law didn’t address that.

“It still doesn’t hold the hauler accountable,” she said. She suggested that the Town Board meet with County Waste to discuss the issue.

Mr. Rappleyea pointed out that town residents have private contracts with County Waste for trash pick­up and that those agreements do not go through the board. He said the only law the town can impose is that homeowners need to remove their cans from the curb within a certain amount of time, even if the garbage has not been picked up.

Mr. Rappleyea and Mr. DeGroodt both talked about the difficulty of enforcing a law where the Code Enforcement Officer would have to go around and mark garbage cans to see how long they had been out. Mr. Rappleyea said that the Highway Department had suggested having the town pick up garbage in the past.

Ms. Lull said that she was not in favor of adding waste collection to the town’s list of departments.

“I don’t want more government. I don’t want another department,” she said.

She hoped that residents would attend board meetings to discuss the issue that has know gone back and further among board members for the last three months.

Attempts to contact someone at County Waste for comment before press deadline were unsuccessful.

Also at the meeting the board:

•Heard Mr. DeGroodt say that the date for completion of the East Chatham Bridge that carries Albany Turnpike over the CSX tracks will be completed December 16, a few weeks behind the original schedule.

•Discussed the fire escape at the Tracy Memorial, where Town Court is held, is in need of repair. Mr. Rappleyea said the building is currently out of compliance with code; Mr. DeGroodt said the Tracy Memorial Committee was working on the problem.

•Discussed an opening on the town Planning Board for a term that runs through 2015.

The next regular board meeting will be Thursday, December 19 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .


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