In the middle of the season of heat waves and beach-going, Southold is once again having its annual saga of garbage and greed.
From Nassau Point to the Pine Neck boat ramp, secret dumpers have been using town garbage containers for their own personal refuse, town Superintendent of Highways Pete Harris told the Town Board last week.
“The Pine Neck boat ramp gets minimal use. The garbage is not from boaters using that road end. Last year, I pulled a barrel out of there every day,” he said. “People were calling up and asking what happened to the barrel. They’re the ones that are putting the garbage in.”
Mr. Harris said he believes a handful of summer weekenders are doing the dumping, because he only receives phone calls if he takes a barrel away in the summer time. He said that, in Nassau Point, when he removed a barrel at the end of Nassau Point Road the dumpers instead stuffed their garbage into the town’s storm drains.
“As much as I hate to facilitate their greedy needs, it’s better to clean out a barrel than have them stuff up a drain,” he said. “I’m afraid to take the barrels out. They’re going to end up using my drainage as a garbage pail.”
He said the problem exists at about a dozen trash cans throughout town.
“It’s not town-wide. It’s centrally located in several areas,” he added. “It’s not there solely for them to use as a public dumping ground for their waste.”
“It’s an ongoing issue, and it’s getting out of hand,” agreed Town Supervisor Scott Russell.
Mr. Russell said the town has considered installing closed-circuit cameras trained on the problem garbage cans, but while the cameras could identify the people as they approached the cans, they would not identify the vehicles the dumpers were driving.
Mr. Harris said that, in the past, he has personally put on rubber gloves and gone through the garbage that offenders put in the trash cans. But he said that the savvy dumpers make sure to remove addresses and other incriminating evidence from their trash.
“With that kind of effort, they might as well drive it up to the landfill,” said Mr. Russell.
The town isn’t the only agency that’s been having trouble with garbage this summer. Parishoners at the Unity Baptist Church on Factory Avenue in Mattituck have been disgusted when they arrive to find a large dumpster across the street from their church overflowing with weekend garbage when they arrive at church on Sunday mornings.
The church’s deacon, Leroy Heyliger, made clear to the Town Board this past week that the rotting garbage across from the church is crawling with vermin and picked at by seagulls and crows. The garbage bin belongs to a pizza parlor in the Mattituck Plaza shopping center. Mr. Heyliger said that the tenants who lease the dumpster have refused to pay to have it emptied on weekends, but that Mattituck Sanitation, which owns the dumpster, would like to empty it more frequently.
Though the dumpster was recently surrounded with a fence to screen it from the neighborhood, that fence has been the target of graffiti artists and is not always closed. The town is looking to work with the pizza parlor to rectify the situation.