Selectmen Expand Recycling Program

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'Majority of Residents' Covered Under Plan

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, September 16, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- Residents furious they would not get free trash and recycling carts as part of the town's new collection program will now be issued those carts as a result of a selectmen's vote Monday night.

Board members unanimously voted to expand the program to include the majority of the town's residential properties, including more than 1,000 condominium units.

The program's expansion will cost $99,264 to provide the free carts to these residents, saving them from having to buy the carts themselves at $47 each.

"This proposal essentially covers all residential properties with the exception of commercial apartment buildings and condominiums that currently handle their own trash," said Selectmen Chairman Richard Nichols.

The plan was developed by Public Works Director Keith Noyes to address the inequity of which property owners get the carts for free and which are required to purchase them from the town.

The board directed Noyes last month to come up with plan after coming under fire because the wording of the warrant article — which secured the money for the program to purchase the carts — stipulated the carts would be given out only to single- and two-unit residential homes.

Nichols said the warrant article unintentionally left out several residents, including those who lived in multi-unit residences, condominiums and the four trailer parks in town.

Selectmen said the new plan will cover more than 1,000 condominium units that currently receive trash collection from the town.

Board members said the reason affected residents were not included initially is because selectmen were misled during a public hearing about how many condominium owners receive town collection services.

Former public works director John Price told the board during the Jan. 12 bond hearing about the proposal there "are very, very few, there are a couple" condo owners who receive the service.

In reality, there are 1,063 condominium units whose owners receive the service.

The proposal also expands giving carts to three- and four-unit residential homes as well as trailer park homes.

Noyes said his proposal still does not include providing carts to commercial establishments or condominium associations that do not presently receive curbside pickup services from the town.

The plan also does not include providing a set of carts to every unit. Some multi-family homes which do not need a set of carts per unit may end up sharing larger-sized carts instead.

Selectmen said the money to pay to purchase the carts will come from the projected surplus from this year's operating budget.

If the surplus is not enough to cover the cost, selectmen said money will be used from the public works department's $150,000 paving account.

Noyes said residents who already purchased the carts, and now qualify for the free ones, will be reimbursed by the town.

The new carts are being given out in preparation for the Department of Public Works implementing a new recycling program staring Oct. 3.

Initially, the start date was Sept. 12 but the board pushed it back to deal with the controversy regarding who gets the carts for free.

The primary change with the new recycling program is that all trash and recyclables must now be placed in the town-issued carts — green carts for recycling items and blue carts for trash — at curbside by 5 a.m. on the day of regularly scheduled pickup.

Items not placed inside the new town-issued carts will not be picked up.

The new program comes after selectmen decided to bring recycling in-house rather than continue to contract with Waste Management for the service.

As part of that, voters at the March 8 election approved a $1.2 million investment to purchase three double-arm automated refuse collection trucks, two storage containers and 9,800 wheeled trash and recycling containers for residents.

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