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May 18, 2015 2:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Taxpayers To Southampton Town: Kick Garbage District Proposal To The Curb

Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender holds up a flyer he denied creating about the proposed garbage district in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton. ALEXA GORMAN
May 19, 2015 2:44 PM

Ignoring, at times, a call for civility when voicing their opinions, opponents of a garbage district that could eventually be created in the communities of Riverside, Flanders and Northampton did not hold back when expressing their distaste for the proposal during Friday night’s informational meeting.

“I am offended that the town chose to discriminate and only propose this for our three hamlets,” said June Kessler, who lives in Flanders, during the two-hour hearing that attracted more than 100 people, most of whom would pay for municipal curbside garbage collection as part of the proposed district.

Ms. Kessler, along with an estimated 75 percent of those in attendance at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside, stated that they oppose the idea and urged town officials to not allow the garbage district to even be put up for a public referendum this fall, as has been discussed.

“I think this should be everybody or nobody,” she added. “We shouldn’t be the guinea pigs.”

“It’s sad that the town entertained this,” Susan Tocci of Flanders told Town Councilman Brad Bender, a former president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association and Northampton resident, who was facilitating comments on Friday night. “I don’t think you represented this community, and you wasted my tax dollars.”

The meeting was organized by Southampton Town officials to answer questions and gauge the opinions of the estimated 2,100 homeowners in the tri-hamlet area who would be offered curbside pickup under the plan. Currently, homeowners must either hire private carting companies to dispose of their household trash and refuse, or haul it themselves to one of the town’s transfer stations—the closest of which are in Westhampton and Hampton Bays.

The lack of curbside pickup, and the widespread problem of illegal dumping in the three communities, prompted the leaders of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association to ask the town to investigate the possibility of creating a garbage collection district in the northwest corner of the municipality.

For the most part, however, Friday’s meeting focused on restating details of the proposal without answering the two main questions posed by residents: whether the elderly and disabled would enjoy door-side pickup, and whether the proposal would be rebid to also include non-paved roads in the communities. Currently, the town has eight bids on the table, ranging in cost from as low as $24.47 per month for a single-family household to as high as $60 per month, but they include only paved roads in the three hamlets. The oversight was an error, according to Mr. Bender.

The bids were opened last month by the town, with three of the bidding companies stating that they could not provide an estimated cost for the service. No bids have been selected and commercial properties would not be included as part of the garbage district. The received bids also include the possibility of 5-percent annual increases in collection fees, if the carter and town can agree on a price.

Still, the vast majority of those present raised their hands when asked if they do not support a garbage district. The plan calls for two household trash pickups per week, as well as one recyclable pickup and one bulk trash pickup each week. Additionally, there would be about 10 days per year set aside for yard waste pickup as well.

Some of those in attendance raised concerns about the lowest current bidder, ​Maggio Sanitation based in Yaphank. Ms. Tocci noted that the company has a past record of violations and does not currently own a truck that passed the emission standards set forth in the town bid. Mr. Bender responded by saying that the company intends to purchase a new truck if it signs a contract with the town.

Other opponents took issue with the fact that seasonal residents would pay the same price as year-round homeowners, and that the district could put some local carting companies out of business. Others said they are worried that if the district is created, and the town eventually decides not to renew the contract, that there will be no choices left for residents.

“We’ll have to pay what [the bidders] want because there will be no one else left,” said Dory Danario, another Flanders homeowner, who noted that she has worked with her current carter to keep her cost under $25 per month for her waste pickup.

Additional people said they were frustrated with the town’s decision to spend money in the first place to research the proposal and put out the request for proposals.

“We have other things we need you to spend your time on,” said Nikki Sacco of Flanders. “You could have avoided this whole situation.”

Though they were clearly in the minority Friday night, garbage district supporters said its creation would help with the illegal dumping that is rampant in certain areas of the community.

“I think a garbage district is sorely needed in our area,” said Sandy Adams of Riverside. “I think it will have a significant impact on the illegal dumping.”

Janice Young, president of the Bay View Pines Civic Association, said she also is in favor of the district. “Having called code enforcement multiple times … I think it’s time for municipal pickup,” she added.

Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, whose organization was the main catalyst in urging the town to look into the district, personally asked if disabled and elderly residents would receive door-side pickup. His question, however, was never answered.

Still, Mr. Taldone said he would not offer his opinion of the plan. “There are still questions we need answered here,” he said.

Toward the end of the meeting Mr. Bender said he would share the thoughts and opinions aired Friday with members of the Town Board before deciding whether to award a bid and put the idea up for a public referendum. If the town does move forward, additional public hearings would be scheduled before the actual vote, he said.

Regardless of the outcome, a few residents in attendance asked that both sides check their emotions at the door when exiting the school that evening, stressing that they still need to work together to solve the area’s myriad problems.

“It’s important to come back together as a community,” Rose Nigro of Flanders said. “No matter how this goes, let’s put it aside and move on to another issue we can fix. We need to come back together and make our community grow.”

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Great article Alexa!
By srtocci (2), Flanders on May 18, 15 5:57 PM
So it is the opinion of the "anti" garbage district folks that it should not be voted on as is done in a free society? We prefer mob rule?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on May 18, 15 8:30 PM
^hello anonymous inaccurate surmiser. I only speak for myself, not a mob, but I'll give you my opinion. My opinion is that is so clearly unpopular with the residents and property owners of the three hamlets, why would the town continue to pursue the idea or continue with a study? Flanders is in need of the town's attention and resources but this issue isn't, as so clearly represented by the people in attendance, and the nearly 500 property owners that signed the petition to vote against the referendum ...more
By RonFisher (28), Flanders, New York on May 18, 15 10:44 PM
Well, Ron, I'm thinking that the majority of the resident of the area did not turn out for the circus show. If the story is accurate, "mob" fits. And while you personally may not have a stake in this, your family members do. You should have been an active member of FRNCA and you may well have stopped this 3 years ago when they started to look into it.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on May 18, 15 11:21 PM
I own two homes in Flanders and have lived here for 30 years. I have as big a stake as anyone in what happens here. Were you at the meeting or did you watch it on tv just out of curiosity? It wasn't a circus show it was actually quite calm and quite productive. As for the majority being in attendance. The majority of residents sadly don't even turn out for a vote. I think the showing that did come (at the town's invitation not the "opposition's") made a case to the board that this is a bad idea ...more
By RonFisher (28), Flanders, New York on May 19, 15 7:43 AM
May I suggest a transfer station be set up at the circle there are plenty locations ther ie old diner,or gas station.this would fit in with the present ambiance of this location and should be met with the approval of the the vocal residents.This is your hour to shine Brad.
By watchdog1 (537), Southampton on May 19, 15 9:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
Brad, Shine? He's been quiet as a mouse since getting on the town board. Forgotten all his brave campaign words. Such a disappointment.
By moonpie (43), Southampton on May 19, 15 10:56 AM
Not so. He pushed the plastic bag ban. Now on to the plastic bottles Brad!
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on May 19, 15 1:28 PM
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton