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.

Starting Oct. 1, Close Your Trash Lids Or You’ll Be Left At The Curb

Photo: NO! The incorrect way to leave your trash carts for the hauler.

Starting Monday, Oct 1, trash carts whose lids are not fully closed will be left behind on the curb. And don’t go crying to the town about having to wait a week to have your garbage taken away.

That’s the word from Belmont Department of Public Works Director Jay Marcotte who told the Board of Selectmen at its Friday, Sept. 29 meeting that Waste Management – Belmont’s hauler of household garbage and recyclables since July 1 – has decided it was the right time to have the Town of Homes follow the procedures the company has at its service locations around the country. 

The reason the lids must be closed is to prevent spillage from overflowing carts when they are lifted into the receptacle trucks. 

For those residents who are scofflaws to this new enforcement measure, Waste Management will sticker barrels that are not closed or have unofficial bags on top of trash barrel lid. The town will not send the hauler back to empty stickered trash. Those citizens will have to wait until the following week and then the process must be done correctly; the cart lid closed and excess trash placed in official overflow bags next to the cart.

While Mike Santoro, the head of the highway division, said there is a little leeway for carts whose lids are slightly open, Selectman Mark Paolillo – who has become a crusader against wayward trash around town – was rigid in his support of a completed closed lid, saying there should be no wavering in the law’s application, noting he regularly uses the supplemental bags.

The overflow bags can be purchased at Star Market on Trapelo Road, Hillside True Value on Blanchard Road and the DPW Office at 19 Moore St. The cost is $15 for a sleeve containing five 32-gallon bags.

Cardboard, Old Trash Barrel Drop-Off At Town Yard This Saturday, Sept. 29

Photo: Yes, bring it all in for recycling – but you’ll have to keep the truck.

Still have that large package for your 54-inch screen laying about the basement? Do you have an ever growing pile of Amazon Prime boxes in the side room? And what about the large barrels made redundant with the town’s new garbage and recycling carts? 

Well, the solution to both of your problems is coming this Saturday, Sept. 29 when the town conducts a Cardboard and Container Drop-Off from 9 a.m. to noon at the Department of Public Works Town Yard located at the end of C Street off Waverley Street. 

Have lots of corrugated cardboard? If it is flattened and kept dry, it can be dropped off.

Old trash barrels and recycling bins that you won’t reuse for yard waste – those containers must be 32-gallons or smaller – or storage will also be collected.

And you can take barrels home as those in like-new condition will be available for reuse!

New Trash/Recycling Carts Start Arriving Monday … And What To Do With The Old One

Photo: Belmont residents can expect to see their new “carts” this and next week.

They’re here!

For the next two weeks, residents will discover something left behind on trash day: the delivery of the long-awaited “carts” for automated garbage and recycling collection by Waste Management, Belmont’s new trash collector.

The pair of carts will be left curbside during the last week in June and the first week of July. Each cart will have a serial number corresponding to the resident’s address.

If residents are not home during the drop-off, make arrangements for a neighbor or friend to place the carts on your property.

This week will be the final one for curbside removal of unlimited “bulk” items – large items such as couches or mattresses. 

Overflow bags will be sold at:

  • Hollingsworth, 89 Trapelo Rd.                               
  • Hillside Garden/True Value, 280 Blanchard Rd.
  • DPW Office, 19 Moore St. (Homer Building) Some of these locations only accept cash or checks.

Residents living in townhouses at Hill Estates will have their recycling changed from Monday Blue to Wednesday Green. This change is for recycling only.

For residents who are on a Tuesday Green recycle collection schedule, check the list below to see if your collection has changed to Wednesday Green. This change is for trash and recycling.

Change trash and recycling from Tuesday to Wednesday: 

  • 60-144 Blanchard Road
  • 11-157 Bright Road
  • 3-16 Dana Road
  • 5-65 Gale Road
  • 4-68 Glenn Road
  • 9-21 Mannix Circle
  • 17-90 Richardson Road
  • 10-49 Sharpe Road
  • 2-96 Taylor Road
  • 3-336 Washington Street
  • 16-176 Watson Road

What to do with your old garbage barrels?

Residents can continue to use them for personal use. But if a homeowner wants the barrel taken away, according to DPW Assistant Director Mike Santoro, place a large note on the barrel(s) on the next trash day that reads something like: PLEASE TAKE THIS BARREL. If you don’t take advantage of this one time removal, just remember that barrels are considered a “bulky” item and residents must call DPW Office to schedule pick up by noon before the next regular trash day.