2018-01-19 / Front Page

Collection sites cause a stir

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Overflowing dumpsters and piles of solid waste have become a frequent scene at the recycling and compost drop off site near the Maine Veterans Home on Route 1. The issue became worse recently in part due to winter weather that hit around the holidays, which caused curbside recycling and waste pickup to be delayed or altered. The town recently opened a third recycling drop off center at the dead-end section of Payne Road behind On the Vine Marketplace. (Courtesy photo) Overflowing dumpsters and piles of solid waste have become a frequent scene at the recycling and compost drop off site near the Maine Veterans Home on Route 1. The issue became worse recently in part due to winter weather that hit around the holidays, which caused curbside recycling and waste pickup to be delayed or altered. The town recently opened a third recycling drop off center at the dead-end section of Payne Road behind On the Vine Marketplace. (Courtesy photo) For years, the town of Scarborough has offered communal recycling locations near the Maine Veterans Home on Route 1 and Wal-Mart parking lot. During the summer of 2016, compost collection was added to both sites.

More recently, a Scarborough resident says his fellow residents are abusing the system and the town should rethink the value of the service.

“People have made a complete mess at the town’s facilities and it seems to me (Scarborough) should eliminate this service if residents continue to prove they have no disregard for common decency,” said Pleasant Hill resident Fred Follansbee.

To combat illegal dumping of solid waste at the recycling and compost drop off center on Route 1, the town has installed new signs alerting people what can, and cannot be left there. (Courtesy photo)To combat illegal dumping of solid waste at the recycling and compost drop off center on Route 1, the town has installed new signs alerting people what can, and cannot be left there. (Courtesy photo)
Follansbee said he stopped at the Route 1 location on Jan. 1 to find boxes piled several feet in the air in front of the silver bullet and heaps of compost material falling out of the Garbage to Garden compost totes.

Kerry Grantham, Scarborough’s sustainability coordinator, said she is aware of the issue and to combat it, the town has added two recycling containers at the dead-end part of Payne Road behind On the Vine Marketplace (the old Dunstan Schoolhouse Restaurant).

“What we had was the perfect storm literally, between the holiday and the weather event, which interrupted our trash and recycling pick up routes,” Grantham said. “Pine Tree Waste did an excellent job, but there were some places here and there that they had trouble picking up.”

Grantham said crews from the public works department visit the drop-off locations twice a day Monday to Friday to monitor them. Because of this, most of the issues, she noted, tend to happen on the weekend.

Grantham said after some improper disposal of items this summer, new signage was added telling people what can, and cannot be left at these sites. Those signs, Grantham said, have “helped a little,” but the problem has been compounded over the last few months, ever since the windstorm in late October/ early November.

That Jan. 1 mess, Follansbee said, was “the most egregious I have seen, but quite often I see lesser piles outside the container.” Follansbee said he typically doesn’t see plastic shopping bags of compost materials, but has seen that increasingly more often in recent weeks.

Follansbee said he also sees regular waste items and even bulky items like desks or mini-fridge and grass clippings/leaves, even though those items shouldn’t be left at the recycling drop-off areas.

Grantham said she has seen items such as Styrofoam, construction materials, Christmas lights, garden hoses and even a toilet left at the drop-off centers.

“When recycling starts falling outside the bins, it starts to attract garbage,” Grantham said. “Once a resident, or someone passing through see the piles of cardboard, it becomes a free-for-all. We’ve has issues over the past year of people treating the silver bullets as if it were a swap shop and leaving computers, piles of clothes for others to have, but that is illegal. That is littering.”

The town does not have a swap shop of its own, but does have an agreement with the city of Saco, in which Scarborough residents can use an online swap shop to dispose of items they don’t want, or search for items they need.

There are other arrangements for the proper disposal of many of the items Follansbee and Grantham have seen at the drop-off areas.

Excess residential solid was can brought to the Scarborough Public Works Department at 20 Washington Ave., after signing in at the front lobby, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Things such as bulky waste, yard debris, construction materials, appliances or electronics waste should be brought, for a fee, to the Community Recycling Center on Runway Road on the Scarborough/South Portland line. Electronics can be brought free of charge to Goodwill, Best Buy, Staples locations or the Pine Tree Waste facility at 87 Pleasant Hill Road. Residents can also, for a charge, dispose of items at the Riverside Recycling Center on Riverside Street in Portland.

If behavior doesn’t improve, Follansbee said the town might have to force residents to “deposit waste at the dump or pay more for greater curbside pick up.”

“While I am a religious composter and recycler and would be sorry to see the program go, I would totally understand if the city eliminated these sites because some members of the community’s behavior,” Follansbee said.

Grantham said she still “absolutely” sees the value in offering residents these drop-off sites, but they do need to be used in a more responsible fashion, something she hopes the new location on Payne Road will help.

Grantham said if residents are routinely finding they are filling up their 64-gallon recycling tote before their pickup day, they can request a 96-gallon tote from the public work department free of charge by calling the office at 730-4400.

For more information about recycling, composting or Scarborough’s sustainability efforts, visit http://www.scarboroughmaine.org/departments/sustainability.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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