In Copake, clean-up day gets pickier

COPAKE—As we once again strain to heave weighty shovelfuls of snow out of the driveway thanks to the third nor’easter in as many weeks—probably the last thing on our minds is spring clean-up day.

But the subject was a topic of discussion at the Copake Town Board’s March 8 meeting.

Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer said the town’s annual clean-up day started out with “good intentions” but is now getting out of hand.

The purpose of clean-up day, which is sponsored by towns across the county, is to give residents a chance to get rid of broken or unwanted stuff lying around the house or yard—like that busted lawn chair or cracked coffee mug—by bringing it to the Town Highway Garage for free disposal.

But over the 16-or-so years that the town has organized cleanup day, some people have gone overboard, which has caused town officials to ban or limit the types of items that can be disposed of at cleanup day.

In the past, contractors brought truckloads of construction and demolition debris, like old roofing materials and when a local garage went out of business—dozens of old tires were hauled in.

Now the problem is upholstered furniture; last year it was mattresses.

The town usually pays a flat rate per ton to dispose of clean-up day debris at Carmen Barbato, Inc., a waste management company in Hillsdale, but now the town has been notified that couches, recliners and beds cost extra.

Town Highway Superintendent Bill Gregory took a few moments out from plowing snow this week, to tell The Columbia Paper, that the cost per ton to dispose of debris is $105. He said last year, the town disposed of 16.78 tons and the year before that was 15.58 tons. In 2013, the year of the c + d and roofing material, there was a spike to 47.74 tons.

He said box springs, mattresses and futons cost $20 apiece extra to dispose of and sofas and recliners cost between $10 and $15 extra apiece. Tires are now limited to four per resident and cannot be larger than 19-inch rims.

Clean-up day is a major production at the highway garage that requires the involvement of all seven full-time department employees, including the superintendent, plus two part-time park employees and volunteers—Mr. Nayer and Town Clerk Larry Proper.

Also, every piece of Highway Department equipment is pressed into service. Debris is unloaded from residents’ vehicles into two front-end loaders, then hoisted into every town truck and packed down or crushed by the town excavator. The filled trucks then transport the loads to Barbato’s, Mr. Gregory said.

Supervisor Nayer estimated the cost of last year’s clean-up day at $4,000. The town paid about $400 extra for mattresses and furniture that “slipped through,” he said. He proposed that upholstered furniture be added to the list of unacceptable items to save the town some money.

Councilman Stanley “Stosh” Gansowski said the town might be better off spending the extra money, noting “I don’t want to see [that stuff] on the side of the road.”

Mr. Nayer said people love clean-up day and that they save up their old stuff for a year, just for the chance to get rid of it for free. But some people abuse the opportunity, he said, noting that a landlord brought a bunch of furniture left by former tenants. Councilperson Kelly Miller-Simmons said people who live in other towns ask their friends in Copake to take their stuff to clean-up day.

Supervisor Nayer called for a motion to add upholstered furniture to the list of unacceptable items.

The board voted “yes” and Councilperson Jeanne Mettler said the town should tell residents where they can take the items that the town will not accept.

The supervisor said the items can be taken to Barbato’s directly or to Columbia County Solid Waste Department-operated convenience stations, in many cases for a lesser charge.

County Solid Waste Department Director Jolene Race said by email, “We do take appliances and furniture at all of our stations and there is a charge associated with it and [we] have a price list on our website.”

She said the county has not had any price increases or changes in years, but is considering a change to the charge for tires in the future, as the cost to dispose/recycle them has increased in the past two years.

A price list for item disposal can be found at, click on departments, then solid waste. For questions email or call 518-828-2737.

Copake Clean-up Day is slated for Saturday, May 19, 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Highway Department, 47 School Road.

The town will not accept household garbage, mattresses, box springs, futon beds, upholstered furniture, construction or demolition debris, brush or limbs, hazardous materials like paints or pesticides, refrigerators, air conditioners or any appliances containing Freon.

Some good news though, looks like disposal of snow is acceptable.

To contact Diane Valden email

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