Thursday, November 19, 2015

Litter Definition Expanded

On November 12, 2015, Shelton's Board of Aldermen adopted an amendment to the City Ordinances which expands the definition of litter to include advertising materials. Litter now specifically includes telephone books, books, and advertising materials. Previously it was a more of a gray area in the ordinance, open to interpretation. 

Besides phone books, other items that get thrown in people's driveways and lawns include little baggies that contain a business card and few rocks to weigh it down. No one wants these. No one wants to have to pick them up. Also litter: pamphlets, brochures, fake religious plastic gold coins thrown all over the street. 

Business card in baggie with rocks thrown from car. This is littering. 

Reference Ordinance: Chapter 7 Article I Section 7-9 Littering or Dumping Prohibited. Amendment approved unanimously November 12, 2015. Public Hearing took place October 27, 2015. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Battle of Pearmain

Pearmain Road at the gas pipeline after the cleanup (click photo to enlarge)
Pearmain Road is one of the White Hill's more interesting streets, linking Birdseye Road to Saw Mill City Road.  Traveling west from Birdseye Road, Pearmain is a narrow, paved street lined with farmland and homes. But the pavement ends, and that's where the trouble begins.  A few hundred yards of easily-traveled dirt road leads to a Iroquois Gas Pipeline facility and a turn-around of sorts (see location on Google Maps). Past that point, the road is in such poor shape that it's become a challenge course for young people with 4WD trucks and a popular route for ATVs (note: the trucks are legal on this road, but the ATVs are not). 

People have been dumping and partying here for years. A video from 2006 was taken by the new conservation agent after receiving a complaint about a pile of tires where the gas pipeline crosses Pearmain Road. The location can be reached by hiking south from the Land Trust's Nicholdale Farm property off of Rt 110 (location of a Scout camp).

The area was then cleaned up, and Iroquois installed a heavy gate across Pearmain Road where the pavement ends. Sadly, the heavy chain locking the gate was cut, repeatedly. Everyone finally just gave up trying to keep it locked and the dumping continued.

The issue came to the forefront again in the fall of 2014 while the Trails Committee was building an official connector trail from the Land Trust's Scout camp out to Pearmain Road. The new trailhead came out onto Pearmain Road only a few feet from piles of trash. Committee members took apart an old picnic table that had been dumped and used the lumber for a trail bridge. Most concerning were the campfire remains found directly over the gas pipeline. Kids were playing with fire right on top of a huge natural gas line!  This lent a sense of urgency to the issue.

A real mess
After conferring with various city departments, the Conservation Agent researched better ways to lock the existing gate and installed security cameras. Some chains appear to be much stronger than others.   Justino's Landscaping then rose to the challenge, hauling out a mountain of trash. The Police Department reviewed the area and now makes a point to check the gate routinely: If the gate is suddenly found open on a Saturday night, there is probably a party going on.  

Garbage removed, but landscaping debris is unsightly. 
After the trash was hauled out, there was still a lot of unsightly landscaping debris that had been dumped, including many large, rotting logs.  The Police noted that the logs were an invitation for kids who wanted to start a fire, and recommended the wood be removed. Highways & Bridges then sent in a crew to remove the landscaping debris, finishing up by spreading woodchips. 

Much better!
The road is still technically open to registered vehicles. Although they can't pass through the gate, it's legal to drive in from Saw Mill City Road if you have a truck capable of handling the rough road. The point of the gate was to stop people coming in the easy way with loads of debris they want to dump as well as teenagers driving in by car to attend a party. The gate seems to be accomplishing that so far.

In conclusion, it has taken the efforts of a lot of people to get this dumpsite cleaned up, and to keep it secure from future dumping, but where there is a will, there is a way. Many thanks to the following:

Iroquois Gas Company
Justino's Landscaping
Shelton Highways & Bridges
Shelton Police Department

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Clean Sweep 2015 - Another Success

"Lia and her team of turkeys" off Birdseye Road
Shelton Clean Sweep was another great success this year. Many thanks to everyone involved! We had 45 clean-up events registered online, and there are always many other cleanups that no one tells us about (perhaps the majority). The total reported cleanups involved 275 people who removed 250 large bags of litter as well as many other large items like old swing sets, tires, and even an old car. This does not include the Housatonic River Cleanup, in which maybe 100 people filled up a couple of large dumpsters.  

Results reported via the online Cleanup Reporting Form for the month of April: 
Jones Farm  - Walnut Tree Hill Road - 7 bags
Karen Sobbell & Family - Mohegan Road - 6 bags
Ingrid Waters - Long Hill Cross - 5 bags
Karen Sobbel, Mohegan Rd
Toni Pensiero - Constitution Blvd - 8 bags
Lia's Team of Turkeys - Corner of Rt 110 and Birdseye - 4 bags
Sheri Dutkanicz - Meadow St - 5 bags
Terrance Gallagher - Mill Street - 7 bags
Farmill River Association - Far Mill River - 8 bags and 2 boxes
Well Spring Estates - Old Stratford Rd, Farmill Crossing - 15 bags
Ellen Cramp - Coram Rd - 1 bag
Stusalitus Family - Canfield Drive - 2 bags
EDR - Armstrong Road - 5 bags
One Hour Heating - School St & Monroe Rd - 12 bags
Mica Corporation - Ivy Brook, Mountain View Roads - 6 bags
ECA - Mountain View, Ivy Brook - 31 bags & lawnmower
George Waters - Shelton Canal - 5 bags and large items
Boy Scouts Troop 55 - Shelton High - 7 bags
Sheri Dutkanicz - Birchbank Mtn Trail; Long Hill Ext. - 1 bag
Girl Scout Troop 63140 - Capewell Park - 3 1/2 bags
Eva Washenko - Petremont Street - 5 bags
St. Joseph  Group - South Bank - 3 bags & a tire
Nancy Dickal  - Kneen Street - 8 bags
Roller Family - Rocky Rest Road - 2 large bags
Karen S. - Mohegan  Road - 12 bags
Country Club Village - Means Brook - 25 bags and many large items
Boy Scout Troop 28 - Far Mill River; Rt 108 - 15 bags, 2 swingsets, an old truck
Girl Scout Troop 60394 - Nells Rock Reservoir - 4 bags
Belden Family - Kneen/Long Hill Ave/Const. Blvd - 1 bag
Girl Scout Troop 60062 - Perry Hill School - 5 bags
Cub Scout Pack 20 - Sunnyside School - 20 bags
RND Landscaping - East Village Rd - 4 bags, bumper, drawer
Karen S - Ripton Road - 2 bags
Gil Pastore - Far Mill River - 2 bags, 2 tires, and a tarp
United Methodist Church - Todd Road - 4 bags
Gil Pastore - Mill Street - 2 bags
Pack 27 - East Village Park - 10 bags and a tire
GS Troops 60778 & 60443 - SHS and SIS - 1 bag
Ron and Preston - Mill Street - 5 bags

Many volunteers don't report their cleanups, so the above is just a fraction of the litter that was actually removed.  We are still working to persuade people to record their cleanups. An estimate of the total number of volunteers involved throughout Shelton is 500 people. 

Housatonic River Cleanup -
One of the filled dumpsters at Sunnyside Boat Launch

Kenny Bagdasarian
Constitution Blvd
The biggest single cleanup is always the Housatonic River Cleanup, which stages at Sunnyside Boat Launch. This year was no exception, even though the group had to contend with some rowing races being held on the river at the same time as the cleanup. The debris was even sorted for better disposal. Great job! The group posts lots of great photos on their Facebook Page.

This year we saw a big uptick in the number of High School students seeking to work independently picking up litter to earn Community Service hours. Shelton High requires ten hours per year, and the deadline is May 1. We have a webpage that explains exactly how to earn hours by picking up litter. In order to receive credit, students need to carefully document exactly when, where, and how much they cleaned up, and also submit photos. Students can also earn their hours by helping out with the Housatonic River Cleanup, but some students prefer to work independently in their own neighborhood, sometimes for the best scheduling flexibility.

We seem to have a drop in the number of Scouts participating and would like to know why that is. It does seem harder to get word out to all the Scouting groups in advance. And we no longer hold the recognition event where certificates are handed out with the Mayor. Is that a factor? We miss all those Scouting photos.  But we did get some photos from others. Great job, everyone!

MICA - Ivy Brook Road

One Hour Heating and Cooling - School Street

Troop 28 - Far Mill River near Gristmill Lane

Residents of Well Spring Estates - Old Stratford Road

Cleanup by George Waters, Shelton Canal

Friday, April 24, 2015

Looking for a Clean-up Event to Join?

Looking to join a group of people cleaning up Shelton?  Here are three opportunities happening Saturday, April 25, 2015:

1. Housatonic River Cleanup, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Sunnyside Boat Launch. This is a good event for high school students needing community service hours because their form can be signed on the spot (be sure to bring a form!).  This annual event is sponsored by Housatonic River Cleanup Inc. and is always the biggest cleanup in Shelton. Click HERE to view the flyer.

2. Shelton Land Trust Cleanup, 2:00 pm, Nicholdale Farm parking area (next to #322 Leavenworth Road/Rt 110).  Land Trust volunteers will be cleanup up litter along the Rt 110 frontage. That includes an old cow tunnel!  Note: The Shelton Land Trust is a private, non-profit organization that owns about 370 acres of open space.

3. Center Street, downtown Shelton, 9:00 - 10:30 am, sponsored by State reps Ben McGorty and Jason Perillo. Click HERE for more info.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Unsecured Loads

This open flatbed loaded with scrap cardboard pulled out of Walmart recently.
Not all litter is intentional. "Inadvertent litter" can make up a substantial percentage of roadway litter. For example, trash that's not secure can spill over roadways, although there seems to be a lot less of that source since Shelton switched to new garbage cans.  One very common source of inadvertent litter is unsecured loads. Most people have had the experience of a piece of paper or a bag unexpectedly blowing out of their car after the windows are rolled down.  

Most people have also been behind a commercial vehicle from which waste materials were flying out and landing all over the road. I have seen this repeatedly along Bridgeport Avenue, with each truck turning to get on Route 8, where I assume even more litter was created. These loads were not properly secured. The photo above shows a load of baled cardboard on an open flatbed coming out of Walmart. Pieces of the cardboard were blowing around and breaking off in the wind, which is predictable. This type of load should be carried in an enclosed container. It may be cheaper for the businesses involved to transport in this open top flatbed, but taxpayers are then stuck paying for state workers to pick up the litter. 

The photo below is another common scenario: a roll-off container with an open top from which materials can blow out. Sometimes there is a tarp over the top, but the wind easily gets under the top unless it's very tightly secured with no air gaps and pulls light materials out onto the street. Again, taxpayers foot the bill for picking up the garbage on this state highway. 

Papers were blowing out of this roll-off container last April.
More concerning are scattered biowastes that have been found spilled along Bridgeport Ave, and well as medical records that should be private.

Businesses are responsible for ensure their wastes are being handled properly by contractors, and not just hiring the lowest bidder. Ask to see the truck before it leaves the premises...does it look secure? Waste haulers are responsible for complying with state law and securing their loads. And the state and local police are responsible for stopping and ticketing drivers when loads have not been secured.