By Richard Doyle
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, May 28, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Seacoast Scene and Seacoast Online.]
Those of you who have been around for a while probably remember one of the late, great actress Bette Davis' most famous lines -- "What a Dump" -- from one of her 1930's movies. She obviously never used the Hampton Transfer Station or she would have gotten her fabulous eyes open even more. Our refuse center is quite the place that I found out recently myself.
In the little yellow hut called the scale house that I pulled up to, I was welcomed by a pleasant greeter who asked what I was dropping off and I told him it was cardboard or an old TV concealed in the trunk of my car. These people are very cordial and will shoot the breeze with you about the Patriots or Red Sox if there is no line of cars like in mid-week when I usually go. After checking for my sticker which he saw on the left rear window, I was allowed to proceed up the ramp. As usual, I turned around and backed into the area, stopped and open the doors and the trunk. As a resident I wasn't charged to use the terminal station but if I was a commercial landscaper. I would be charged.
Coordinator Mark Richardson, who has been on the job since 2000, leads full time workers Bob Desrosiers, Tobi Eldridge, Clint Boudrieau, and part timers Ron Munday & Paul Paquette. Richardson sat down with me recently for an interview. He said he would like people to know that the transfer station is here! Everything is recycled except trash that it transferred to landfill in nearby Rochester. Demolition items like wood, sheet rock and furniture go to two places either to the Triano Company in South Portland, Maine or Erco on Route 27 in Epping.
All recycling in Hampton is voluntary but Hampton was the first town in the state to recycle electronics. In the past three years there has been a marked increase in the amount of materials being recycled. Computers and televisions are a big problem. The glass needs to be broken up and ground down in order to remove dangerous lead contents. Hard drives from computers are another problem as attempts are made to remove precious metals.
The biggest problem at the transfer station is what to do with old tires. They mostly go to dealers because they can't go in the trash. The station itself has to think of their own old tires and what to do with them in addition to what the public wants to throw away.
The transfer station is in the process of issuing "swipe" cards to all Hampton residents who may use the plant with no restrictions. It is up to each town to set up requirements like this since there is no uniformity in the state for trash. Due to the influx of summer visitors to the beach each year, this increases the work of the Highway Department for daily pickup especially for restaurants. Right now their trucks are okay with two new ones and four backups being used to do the work. Roll off containers that are huge bins provided by manufacturers are in good shape.
Talk comes up occasionally to privatize but this usually goes no where. Years ago there was movement to inaugurate a Second Chance program staffed by volunteers but it did not materialize said Richardson. This would allow residents to drop off materials that people might claim for reuse rather than have items totally thrown away. Right now there is a "Got Books" program with over 10,000 pounds of materials available to the public like old books, records, CD's, DVD's and cassettes.
The transfer station is open six days a week but closed on Tuesday. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday it is open from 8 am to 3 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays it is open from 8 am to 1 pm.
If you'd like to find out what is accepted at the transfer station you may pick up a list with fees charged for items like propane tanks to mattresses. Items containing asbestos and other hazardous materials are not accepted.
Richardson told me that occasionally unique items turn up like the man who wanted to throw away a piano. This item was claimed within a few minutes by a grateful customer. Firearms are another thing. Once a valuable Civil War musket was retrieved by Richardson as well an old Confederate twenty five cent piece of paper currency that he found in a book and was being used a book mark. Remember one man's junk is another man's treasure.
When I first moved to Hampton close to twelve years ago, I asked somebody where the dump was in this town as I had stuff I needed to take there. I was told we didn't have a "dump", we had a transfer station. Tony Soprano being in Waste Management needn't worry about any rivalry from our transfer station, we are making out just fine. Besides dead bodies aren't accepted, I don't think!