Residents Bring Tons of Cardboard During Saturday’s Drop Off Event

Photo: Cardboard drop-off remains a popular event in Belmont

The line of cars and other vehicles stretched down C Street and out onto Waverley Street this past Saturday, Jan. 9, all driven by Belmontians with a single goal in common: take our cardboard – PLEASE!

With holiday shopping favoring the use of online sites, residents were undeterred by a first-time ever fee or the anticipated long waits to have someone to take away all the empty boxes and packages that were piling up in garages and basements.

In just five hours on Saturday morning into the afternoon, the Department of Public Works’ Highway Division collected 22 tons of cardboard filling five 40-yard long containers, two truck bays and six 6-wheel dump trucks, said Jay Marcotte, Belmont’s director of public works to the Select Board at its Monday, Jan. 11 meeting.

In total, 348 vehicles came through the DPW Yard at the new year’s first drop off event and the town’s inaugural fee-based service. Marcotte said 211 residents paid the $5 fee using the on-line registration (another 20 paid early but didn’t show up) resulting in the town pocketing approximately $1,750. With cardboard selling for something like $50 a ton, Belmont’s coffer will all told take in about $3,000.

With expenses such as a police detail and overtime for DPW personnel, the revenue taken in meant that “we’ll break even,” said Marcotte.

“So you’ll be off the hook,” said Select Board member Adam Dash referring to Select Chair Roy Epstein’s pledge to pay off any deficit saying he was confident that people would not be troubled by a small fee.

For Epstein, the more important outcome of Saturday’s event is that it has “shown its proof of concept.”

XMas Tree Pickup Starts Jan 4; Special Cardboard Drop-Off Set For Jan . 9

Photo: Residents have two weeks to have their trees collected.

Belmont’s Department of Public Works has announced the times and dates for a pair of yearly seasonal services: picking up your Christmas trees and collecting your cardboard.

Curbside Christmas tree collection starts on Monday, Jan. 4, and ends on Jan 14. Trees will be collected on your trash day for those two weeks. Trees need to be free of ornaments, bags, wiring, lights, and stands. After those two weeks, residents will need to call Waste Management (800-972-4545) for a bulky pick-up by noon the day before your trash day. 

Cardboard Drop-Off will take place on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the DPW yard located at 37 C St. off of Waverley Street.

There will be a $5 fee per vehicle.

Contact information will be required for contact tracing purposes. 

The DPW is encouraging contactless payment by requiring pre-registration and payment for the event. Please use the attached link for pre-registration. https://belmontma.myrec.com/info/activities/program_details.aspx?ProgramID=29888

  • Prior to arriving at the event, all residents who have not paid on-line, should be ready with a check (payable to the “Town of Belmont”) or cash, and on a separate sheet of paper, provide the town contact information including your name, address, and phone number.
  • Cardboard will only be accepted from pickup truck beds, trunks, and the back of SUVs. The DPW will not accept cardboard from the seats of vehicles handed to us by residents.
  • Any resident who attempts to or exits a vehicle will be asked to leave.
  • Residents will be required to wear a mask.
  • All town personnel working will be wearing masks and gloves.

January Cardboard Event Will Cost You To Drop Off The Holiday Packaging

Photo: Cardboard collection day is coming in January.

For the first time since it began two years ago, the next town cardboard event will have something extra: a $5 fee per resident will be required during the next drop off day coming after the holidays in early January.

While his fellow board members believe that including a fee will sow confusion and hard feelings among residents, Board Chair Roy Epstein is so convinced the fee based drop off will be a success, he pledged to make up any deficit out of his own pocket.

The cardboard event – which will be the first since June – will take place on Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Department of Public Works Yard at the end of C Street.

Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director, restated his opinion of two weeks previous on Nov. 9, that the only practical way to hold the drop off session is on the weekend with a fee to offset the $2,000 the event will cost the town.

“I would never as the department head agree to … getting rid of planned overtime with the expectation that I would still going to offer that service,” said Marcotte, who said residents are increasingly calling his office on when the next cardboard collection day will take place.

(Cardboard drop offs is a relatively new service, starting after the introduction of automated trash pickup in 2018.)

While suggestions were made to have the service during the workweek, “I don’t see how we would be able to safely conduct an event with a couple hundred cars … blocking up Waverly and C streets,” said Marcotte, noting he would be required to take a crew off of their normal work schedule to run the event.

Board member Tom Caputo countered the need for a fee drop off saying imposing onto residents a new cost would simply create confusion and frustration among the citizenry. Epstein felt that his colleague was “underestimating the ability of our residents to deal with something as simple as a cardboard program.”

“We’re talking about 200 or 300 households out of 10,000 [in Belmont],” he said. “It’s a convenience for a very small number of people in the scheme of things,” Epstein said.

The Select Board’s Adam Dash pondered if holding a potentially money losing fee-based event was worth doing in the first place. At $5 a pop, it’s unlikely the town will see the 300 vehicles needed to break even, said Dash.

“I’ll tell you what, Adam, I personally will make up the shortfall. You can quote me on that,” said Epstein.

What all side did agree on was the need for advanced notice to residents via the media and town signage on the new fee.

“We need to be clear why this is ,,, an unusual year and this is an unusual situation and we apologize” for requiring a fee, said Dash.

The DPW will also set up a pre-payment plan using the town’s Recreation Department website – which can accept credit and debit cards – along with information for contact tracing.

That day payments will also be accepted but it will take longer to process those residents due to the information they’ll need to write out the information required by the Health Department.

Cardboard Drop-Off Fee Could Be Coming To Belmont, Just Not Now

Photo: Questions to the DPW concerning cardboard collection spike during the holidays

Will Belmont residents have to pay to get rid of the glut of cardboard coming their way this holiday?

That was the suggestion from the Department of Public Works as it came before the Select Board on Monday, Nov. 9, to discuss setting dates for the annual holiday season collection of cardboard by the town’s Department of Public Works.

Saying the subject of cardboard produces the largest number of calls to his department, DPW Director Jay Marcotte said the town is scheduling a handful of cardboard events in the next few months to collect the excessive amount of corrugated material many residents collect especially during the holiday season.

(Cardboard drop offs is a relatively new event, starting after the introduction of automated trash pickup in 2018 when residents discovered they “had no space in their new recycling bin” to place the excessive amount of cardboard they were acculating, said Marcotte.)

And if past events are the norm, Public Works is expecting upwards of 300 hundred vehicles jam packed with cardboard along Waverley Street and C Street attempting to enter the DPW Yard originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5.

But as Select Board Chair Roy Epstein said during Marcotte’s presentation before the board there is “a new wrinkle” to upcoming events: a fee.

The call for a “pay as you throw” scheme for cardboard stems from this spring when the town froze overtime spending due to the reduction of town revenues associated with COVID-19 pandemic.

Marcotte said cardboard can’t stake itself in the five truck-sized containers ready to be filled. The DPW needs a crew.

“We usually have one foreman with three to four workers along with one of the administrative assistants working between five to eight hours,” he said. Add to that expense the likely need for a police detail – yes, cardboard drop-off is like holding a rock concert in Belmont – due to the expected overflow of participants for the upcoming event.

“I’m anticipating that high number for this event because we did not have any drop offs during the spring. Usually by now we would have had two to three events,” said Marcotte. After speaking with the town’s Health Department, the DPW will need additional staff to take down contract tracing information due to the pandemic.

By the end of the day, such an event is expected to cost the DPW up to $2,400 for a Saturday event running from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Without overtime, “this will have to be a self-sustaining event, said Epstein. The cardboard will bring in $400 so the net expense to the town will be in the order of $2,000. A quick back of the envelope calculation came out to approximately $8 to $9.

The initial plan was for residents wanting to drop-off cardboard to head over to the Recreation Department page on the town’s web site to sign up with their contact info and prepay the fee as the event will be cash-free due to COVID-19 and just the ease of making everyone pay online.

“That will probably be the biggest hurdle, getting the documentation,” said Marcotte.

But the fee proposal quickly earned pushback from Board Member Tom Caputo. “I get the principle when it relates to overtime but I also wonder if we are … creating a great deal of resident frustration,” Caputo asked. By forcing the public to pony up for a previously free service on top of requiring them to use a new payment system in the knowledge that many will show up having not paid the new fee “[i]s going to generate a great deal of ill-will,” he said.

A compromise, suggested Caputo, would be to hold the event on a weekday and thus taking overtime out of the equation, a solution fellow board member Adam Dash was amenable to try.

“The whole cost of $2,352 … is such small money that your going to get $2,300 worth of trouble charging $5 or $10 for this,” said Dash, saying that many residents will note the town passed an override a quarter century ago to establish free curbside pickup.

“I’m not happy taking $2,000 away from something else for a repeated event because we’ll have to do it two more times. That’s $6,000,” said Epstein.

And a weekday solution would create its own issues, said Epstein, with long lines of vehicles likely to impede traffic on a busy roadway, annoy the neighbors and clogging up the Town Yard during a busy work day.

While proposals such as drop-offs on consecutive Friday and Saturday one-paid and the other free were bantied about, Marcotte told the board his department simply could not conduct the service “if we don’t charge. I don’t have a budget for it.”

While Caputo said he understood Marcotte’s frustration, “we’ll have to be creative in how we can enable this. Can we try [drop offs] a couple of times during the week and see how that works.”

It was Town Administrator Patrice Garvin who broke the logjam by injecting “I think it’s worth at least a try,” followed by Marcotte saying “I’m open to that.”

Garvin added a caveat of significant outreach to residents along Waverley and C streets on the time span and traffic mitigation for the event now set for the week of Dec. 1.

“We’ll figure it out,” said Garvin.

Cardboard Drop-Off On Saturday, Jan. 25, At Town Yard

Photo: Cardboard drop-off on Saturday.

Do you have too much cardboard for your recycling cart? Then come to the DPW cardboard drop-off event on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard at the end of C Street off Waverley Street.

This drop-off is for Belmont residents only, so bring ID verifying your address.

It is important to flatten all cardboard to keep the line moving. The DPW will not take cardboard that has been wet or not flattened. Details below.

Cardboard Drop Off This Saturday; X-Mas Trees Pick Up Starts Monday

Photo: O Tannenbaum, lying in the gutter.

The holiday season is not just a time for presents and festivities; it also a time when your house is filled with all those cardboard boxes in which those gifts were delivered.

To help homeowners free up space in their recycling bins, the Belmont Department of Public Works is holding its second and third Cardboard Drop-off events on:

  • Saturday, Jan. 4
  • Saturday, Jan. 25

from 9 a.m. to noon at the DPW Yard, 37 C St. (off Waverley Street), weather permitting. Bring along an ID indicating that you are a Belmont resident.

Christmas trees are a wonderful traditional centerpiece for so many. But once the New Year has come and gone, so will the tree.

Again this year, Christmas trees will be picked up by Waste Management, the town’s hauler, for two weeks from Monday, Jan. 6 to Friday, Jan. 17. The trees will be diverted from the Waste to Energy plant and composted.

There are some dos and don’ts on what Christmas-related items can and can’t be recycled:

  • No ribbon or bows
  • No plastic packaging or plastic toys
  • No plastic bags, wrap or film
  • No batteries
  • No Christmas lights
  • No clothes
  • No food

Wrapping paper and holiday cards are acceptable for recycling, although they can’t have foil or glitter.

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.