The Annual Flushing Of Belmont’s Fire Hydrants Continues Next Two Weeks

Photo: Ready to go

There is the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain while in Belmont there is the annual flushing of the town’s hydrants.

And while not as exciting as dodging a 1,000 kg animal on slippery cobble streets, the yearly flushing helps ensure water quality and helps avoid random bouts of rusty water if there is a high demand for water, caused by a major firefighting effort or water main break, according to Mark Mancuso, manager of the Belmont Department of Public Work’s Water Division.

Starting this week – Tuesday, Oct. 12 – from 7 p.m. to midnight, hydrants with green tops will be opened. This could cause water discoloration in the system. Don’t worry: The water is safe for drinking purposes but residents should avoid laundering during flushing hours. Next week beginning on Monday, Oct. 18, all yellow hydrants will undergo the flush.

Any questions regarding this program? Call the Belmont Water Division at 617-993-2700 for answers.

Trash/Recycling Pick-Up Delayed A Day By Holiday; Weekly Yard Waste Collection Starts Oct. 25

Photo: Put your carts out a day later than usual

Whether it was once Columbus Day or, now, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the holiday on the second Monday of October causes trash and recycling pickup to be pushed back by one day through town. So in the collection universe, Tuesday is actually Monday so don’t be surprised when you go out to collect your carts only to find them still filled.

With gardens shutting down and flower beds begin laid to rest, residents will still need to hold off placing their yard waste for curb side collection other than on the designated recycling day.

Weekly fall yard waste collection begins Oct. 25, and ends on Dec. 9.

And what exactly is yard waste? According to Belmont’s Department of Public Works, it’s leaves, twigs, grass, weeds, flowers, plants, hedge and shrubs prunings that are one inch or less in diameter and other easily raked yard waste. No tree limbs or branches greater than one inch in diameter.
NOT ALLOWED are food scraps, animal waste, trash of any kind, soil or plastic bags.

Just a reminder, yard waste must be placed in 30 gallon biodegradable paper bags or barrels marked with yard waste stickers. Close the bags by folding over; do not use staples or tape. Yard waste should be put out by 7 a.m. on collection days.

Saturday Trash Collection In Parks, Business Centers Approved By Select Board

Photo: Barrels in Belmont playgrounds and park will get add attention on weekends

With money “saved” in the Department of Public Works budget and a few tweeks to the pickup schedule, the Select Board approved a plan which they expect will make Belmont’s public spaces a bit more tidy.

At its Monday, Oct. 4 meeting, the board heard from town officials on a new initiative to reinstate weekend trash collection in Belmont’s business centers and public parks and playgrounds after residents this summer pointed to a ever increasing amount of garbage and waste overwhelming recepticals and sites near town eateries.

John Marshall, assistant town adminstrator and director of recreation, told the board that while bringing back Saturday collection does come at a cost – estimated at $10,000 a year – a funding source was identified that will allow the weekend collection to take place through fiscal year 2022.

“Luckily we had some [DPW] positions that took a little longer to fill … which opened up some salary items that we can use for the overtime to cover the weekend trash pickup,” said Marshall.

The new Saturday collection of the business centers by the DPW crew will begin around 4:30 p.m. while a Recreation Department truck will pickup at town parks and playgrounds starting between 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., said Assistant DPW Director and Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro.

Santoro told the board the collection times during the week in the business centers, including Bemont Center and Waverley Square, “have been tweeked a bit more” to provide greater coverage over the time leading and following the weekend when a majority of the trash complants occur.

On Fridays, the town’s trash hauler, Waste Management, will make collections after they service the town schools as they exit Belmont sometime after 2:30 p.m. On Mondays, Waste Management trucks will start the day collecting at Belmont Center when they arrive in the morning around 7 a.m. Santoro said DPW staff will also monitor the pickup sites during the week.

While funding is secured for the current fiscal year, “we’ll have to go back to the drawing board for funding in ’23. That will now be part of the budget process,” said Marshall.

Belmont Is A Mess! Select Board Targets Growing Trash Complaints On Street, In Parks

Photo: Just another overflowing receptacle in Belmont

When Mark Paolillo decided not to run for re-election to the then Board of Selectmen in 2019, it was mentioned at the time that board meetings would miss his memorable discharges of distain for people who left garbage, trash and, yes, dog poop on the town’s streets and parks.

“This is outrageous, simply outrageous. This can’t happen,” he cried when viewing the aftermath – beer cans, food containers, plastic bags – of an adult softball game in 2016.

So with Paolillo winning a return to the board earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before the public would hear his clarion call:

”Leonard Street is a mess!” Paolillo said at the Monday, Sept 20 board meeting, barely containing his disgust of anyone knowingly throwing trash in overflowing barrels at parks and in the business centers.

But Paolillo’s anger is not attention seeking but well warranted as anyone who travels through Belmont Center, by eateries around town or in any park or playground can testify, trash is a real problem throughout the Town of Homes. Containers outside the town’s favorite take-out places are overwhelmed while barrels in parks are swamped with all manner of garbage and waste.

“The trash levels that we’re seeing now are pretty substantial,” Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director, told the board.

Topped out trash cans and garbage left on the ground is not a new problem. Over the years particular locations such as the aforementioned softball diamond off Concord Avenue, Belmont Center or at Joey’s Park at the Winn Brook School which has become an impromptu site for children’s parties, are in need of collection specifically during the weekend.

The trash cascade begins on Friday evening and continues all day Saturday as residents and visitors come for grab a bite to eat or to attend kids events at parks. And the trash doesn’t stay where its bought or brought. A study from a newly formed local environmental group, Clean Green Belmont, discovered the majority of waste at Clay Pit Pond comes from Belmont Center eateries.

And the jump in trash is more than just a litter or esthetic issue. All that out-in-the-open garbage quickly turns into a public health problem as improperly discarded food contributes to the introduction of rats and other rodents.

So how did the town get in such as predicament? According to Marcotte, much of the increase in waste began in 2019 when the town eliminated overtime for the DPW’s Saturday pickup schedule in a cost savings move. And despite the town’s hauler, Waste Management, emptying town reciprocals three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it does not keep up with the volume for waste produced over the weekend.

Two years ago, the DPW issued a Carry in-Carry out policy that is successful at National Parks but didn’t work in Belmont other than making many residents angry that waste barrels were removed.

In addition, the town had “a very detailed discussion about trash” with Leonard Street businesses when the street became a one way to promote dining and shopping in the Center which led to an agreement that retailers and eateries would install their own trash receptacles which they would have removed.

”I think what we are starting to see is that’s not happening,” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin.

Vice Chair Roy Epstein said it would be a reasonable takeaway to say that self policing by residents on controlling trash “is not working.”

“This is an example of a public good where the way to make sure it gets done is to have the DPW do it and not rely on somebody’s good intentions,” said Epstein.

Marcotte agreed, saying the return of a DPW weekend collect “is a venture we should look into it and start implementing sooner than later.” Garvin pegged the overtime price tag at $10,000 for two workers from April 1 until the first snow fall in late autumn/early winter.

The board agreed the dollars spent in reinstating the DPW pickup “are insignificant considering the benefit it will have to the community,” said Paolillo.

Garvin will “use her usual resourcefulness” to find the money, said Epstein, either by tapping into town resources or rearranging DPW schedules to allow for personnel to work on Saturday. A plan coming from Garvin will be presented to the board at its next meeting.

Snow Emergency Parking Ban Ends; Now Clear Your Sidewalk

Photo: It’s the rules – shovel the sidewalk outside your house. (Credit: Belmont Police Department)

The Belmont Department of Public Works reports the snow emergency parking ban has been lifted as of 9:45 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day).

After the end of the snow fall, the Office of Community Development reminds residents the town’s residential snow removal bylaw requires sidewalks along residential property be cleared of snow and ice by 8 p.m. the day after a storm ends. With regards to last night’s storm, snow and ice should be cleared or treated from sidewalks to a width of at least 36 inches by 8 p.m. tomorrow night, Wednesday Feb. 3.

The town appreciates residents attention to this very important public safety matter. Please refer to the town’s web site for further information regarding winter weather and the town’s snow removal bylaw.

Snow Storm Delays Thursday Trash/Recycling Pickup to Friday

Photo: Delayed a day

The approaching snowstorm set to dump more than a foot of snow onto Belmont Wednesday and Thursday has forced the town’s rubbish vendor Waste Management to delay by one day the trash and recycling collection scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 17, according to the town’s Department of Public Works.

The new pick up date is on Friday, Dec. 18.

The DPW is also asking residents to please keep trash and recycling barrels clear of roadways and sidewalks until snow removal is complete.

Select Board OKs 5 Year Trash Processing Contract

Photo: Trash processing will continue with Wheelabrow Technologies.

Belmont’s Select Board unanimously approved Monday, Aug. 12, a five-year extension to the town’s existing contract with a waste-to-energy firm to process Belmont’s residential trash.

The new contract with Wheelabrow Technologies, which goes into effect July 1, 2020 and runs through fiscal 2025, will see a one year increase of 10 percent from the current fiscal year, jumping from $69.54 to $77 per ton.

Despite the significant spike for the coming year – the cost increases for years two to five will be between 2.5 and 3.5 percent – Jay Marcotte, the town’s director of the Department of Public Works, said he was surprised at the bargain the town received.

“I can honestly tell you that I am surprised that the pricing. I thought it would be a lot more expensive it would be getting rid of trash” since the cost of recycling has skyrocketed in the past year.

“It’s a volitile world out there for recycling and trash,” said Marcotte.

Belmont has separate contracts for hauling trash from the curbside and recycling, each in their second of a five year contracts with Waste Management.

Marcotte said the price Belmont will pay on July 1 is comparable to those in surrounding communities such as Lexington, Wilmington and Reading. He also noted that just a decade ago, trash processing for Belmont was in the $90 to $100 per ton range.

The hit to residents’ tax bill for trash removal under the new contract should not be that hard due to the automated trash collection system installed last year, said Marcotte. While the town budget anticipated about 7,500 tons of trash processed townwide in the past two years, last fiscal year residents produced 6,200 tons, an 18 percent fall off due to automation.

“There is room for improvement,” said Marcotte.

Spring Corrugate Cleaning: Cardboard Drop Off Saturday, March 30

Photo: Cardboard drop off Saturday.

Have you got so much cardboard its overwhelming your recycling cart? Rather than waiting every two weeks to place it on the curb (and still have more stored in the garage), this Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. and noon, the Belmont’s Highway Department will accept dry and flattened cardboard packaging for recycling.

The drop off will take place at the DPW Yard, 37 C St. (off of Waverley Street)

Cardboard will be the only item taken. And the DPW will accept as much as you can fit into your vehicle.

Corrugate Tsunami! After Town Yard Swamped, Town Holding Second Cardboard Day Saturday

Photo: A DPW photo showing just one of the containers filled with cardboard.

The Department of Public Works knew they would have a good response with its first cardboard drop off event of the new year – the first since the holiday season – so it reserved a second 42-foot long transport container “just in case” the first would fill up.

What occurred on Saturday morning, Jan. 5, was beyond anyone’s imagination.

Approximately 276 cars – many stuffed to the brim with packaging and corrugated paper – crawled into the Town Yard at the end of C Street, as the undermanned volunteers and workers tried their best to take out the material and find someplace to put it. Before noon on Saturday, not only were the two shipping container stuffed, the workers filled the shed housing the department’s snow trucks with cardboard. Even before the noon ending, Belmont Police was turning people away as the line were potential traffic on Waverley Street. 

As DPW director Jay Marcotte said before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, Jan. 7, “it was a lesson learned.”

In response to the obvious demand, the DPW is holding a second cardboard recycling drop off this Saturday, Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard off C Street.

With last week’s enthusiastic response for this drop off still fresh on everyone’s mind and with the trend of cardboard recycling is “going up,” Marcotte said the town along with its recycling hauler Waste Management is studying whether to have a regularly scheduled drop off time – for example, an hour on Monday evenings after work – that would be spaced out over a few weeks so the neighborhood on C Street doesn’t feel they are being invaded by their fellow residents. It would involve the rental or purchase of a compactor which would dramatically lessen the number of containers required. 

A new recycling program could also alleviate the growing outcry from residents who contend the blue “recycling” carts aren’t large enough to hold two weeks of cardboard and other recyclables, While residents can store additional trash in authorized purchased bags, there’s no such alternative for recycling since the 96-gallon cart was considered sufficient capacity for two weeks of paper by similar-sized communities with a similar single-stream system.  

New Rules And Times For Leaving Your X-Mas Tree For Pickup

Photo: New rule on X-Mas tree pickup.

As Christmas is fading into the distance, the annual “de-dressing” of o’ Tannenbaum has begun and it’s off to the sidewalk for the family Christmas tree. 

And the Department of Public Works has a message to all residents:

Starting this year, Christmas trees will only be picked up during the two weeks from:

Jan. 7 to Jan. 17. So residents will have two opportunities to have trees picked up.

Please plan accordingly, according to the DPW, or you will have to hold on to your tree for a year (!) or you’ll need to have it hauled away by a private contractor. (Or you can recycle your tree yourself. They make a great covering for flower or vegetable gardens.)

Since the trees are being chipped and composted, they must not have any ornaments, tinsel or lights on them.

Also, the trees can’t be in a bag.

Finally, per the DPW, make sure that your tree is not covered by snow and ice, to facilitate putting it in the truck.

The trees will be recycled this year and will be diverted from the Waste to Energy plant.