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Wenham Selectmen Favor Town Meeting Vote on Trash Changes

At least two Wenham Selectmen said Tuesday that they think the changes being contemplated to trash collection go before Town Meeting voters this fall.

Two members of the Wenham Board of Selectmen said Tuesday that they think a proposal to make changes in trash collection should go to Town Meeting voters in November.

Both Selectmen John Clemenzi and Patrick Wilson said that, while they support changes to the way trash and recyclable materials are collected, they favor a Town Meeting vote versus leaving the decision in the hands of the three-member Board of Selectmen.

Now on the table for Selectmen from both Hamilton and Wenham is that would include weekly single-stream recycling and organics collection and every other week collection of one “free” barrel included in taxes with the option of buying more bags.

Currently, both towns have a “trash reduction program” that allows one “free” barrel a week and residents pay for extra bags. Every other week recycling is free and more than 500 families paid $75 to take part in a curbside organics collection program – the only program of its sort in the state.

The proposed collection plan would include weekly organics collection for all households at no cost in a town-supplied bin.

The warrant for the in Wenham was closed by Selectmen on Tuesday night. But Selectmen are still able to add new warrant articles, including possibly a vote on the new trash plan.

“This is really something that merits being addressed at Town Meeting,” Wilson said. “I’d like to see it on the warrant for Town Meeting.”

Clemenzi, who says he is an avid recycler, said he supports the plan and welcomes the single-stream recycling and the plans to give residents a “more user-friendly bin.”

But he said town voters should have a say on it.

“I really would like to hear more from the public,” he said, adding he that meant he wants it to go to Town meeting.

Clemenzi said that the proposed changes to trash collection “is probably one of the most boisterous subjects I have seen in my five plus years on the Board of Selectmen.”

Chairman Molly Martins noted that Hamilton is taking “a slightly different approach,” where the Board of Selectmen will make the decision. Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo said Monday that town bylaws put the decision in the hands of the Hamilton Board of Selectmen.

Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren said much of the savings comes from the every other week collection of trash versus weekly collection. Hiltz Disposal, the private hauler for both towns, estimates a $90,000 annual reduction in collection costs from the new plan. Additional savings are expected from the reduction of disposal costs when more trash is recycled.

By making changes now, it could avoid “the painful process of having someone at the state level tell you what to do,” Chelgren said.

All three Wenham selectmen said education of residents is a key to showing them the upsides to the changes. Martins said that being ahead of the curve in changes to the way trash is collected has a benefit for a small town such as Wenham, which could – for example – possibly get the bins covered by grants.

“We have a responsibility as a board to look at efficiencies,” Martins said.

Chelgren said both trash collection and disposal costs would continue to increase between 6 and 8 percent annually.

“If we have an opportunity to change the trajectory we have to look hard at that,” Martins said.

Town officials in both towns have said that the changes are coming, in part, because of a push from state officials to increase recycling rates statewide and predict that mandates may be coming down in future years.

Royal Rowland October 06, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Wow Im suprised Im the only one leaving a comment here! My fiance and I have lived in Wenham for 3 years now and every year there is something else that makes me want to move (including my high taxes), now this..... where does all the tax money go! 1 barrel every two weeks you have got to be kidding me!!! Oh and I heard this is due to a woman who video taped the trash men picking up extra trash...what???????..If you have that much time on your hands then come see me I have something you can do around my house....god forbid they do a good job and actually take the trash. So now they 'reject' trash bags and sift through my trash. Im sick of these know it all, too much free time people ruining the basic services that should be provided for the money we pay! Christmas time........ what are the families going to do, compost wrapping paper and styrofoam and old toys? Its going to take 10 weeks to get rid of the trash. Its already hard enough living here with the taxes and the bad economy, leave people ALONE and pick up their stuff. Two barrels every week, recycling every week and 1 big item every week thats how it should be. This town in turning into a nanny town in a nanny state....

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