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Jun 9, 2009 7:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Near-death leads to changes at East Hampton dump

Jun 9, 2009 7:19 PM

After a young child was nearly run over by a car at the household exchange section of the East Hampton Town landfill on Springs-Fireplace Road on June 1, the town has begun to more closely monitor the area.

“When a car pulls up, 10 people charge the car,” said John “J.J.” Krem, a welder in the Sanitation Department, who was watching over the area on Monday afternoon. He noted that the scavengers quickly grab the best items. “Ninety percent of this stuff doesn’t get taken,” he said.

The household exchange area is where residents have been allowed to drop off items for recycling by others. It has become much more of a scene than was envisioned when it was first established under a white tent at the landfill 15 years ago.

On the weekends, it rapidly becomes filled with a sea of unwanted household items, and whole families wait for prime pieces of furniture to be dropped off, swarming the drop-off area whenever someone new comes in with a carload of unwanted belongings.

Sanitation Department head Gene Garypie said that he didn’t know how old the child who was nearly hit last week was, but his department now plans to keep at least one worker at the exchange area each day it is open to ensure that all kids stay in the car and that people obey the signs that say “Look and Go.”

“We were low on manpower. Someone was driving through the area and a child ran behind a car,” said Mr. Garypie. “He almost got hit. You have so many people up there and they don’t leave. If you’re not up there monitoring it, people tend to stay more than they’re supposed to.”

Currently, the exchange is open Friday through Monday, but when the facility has less than its full crew of 12 to 14 workers on duty, it had been one of the first areas of the landfill to go unstaffed.

“The gentleman who was driving the car was very upset. The crew leader agreed with him. We shouldn’t have kids up there not being attended,” said Mr. Garypie. “We’re going to always have one guy there, and if he sees any kids up there he tells the parents they have to stay in the car while their parents look. We’re going to stop people hanging out there for 45 minutes at a clip.”

Town Board member Pat Mansir brought the issue to the attention of the board on June 2. She estimated that it costs the town $1,280 per week to staff and dispose of the unwanted items left at the exchange area. She said she would be happy, for the time being, to offer the service only when the station can be staffed.

Mr. Garypie “needs another person to keep this going,” she said. “For the short term can we stop? He’s tearing his hair out. He doesn’t have enough men.”

Ms. Mansir said that she has witnessed whole families waiting at the household exchange area, sometimes for hours, trying out couches, setting up living room sets, and setting up housekeeping in that section of the recycling center.

“It’s a health and safety issue,” said Ms. Mansir.

“People are hanging out there all day. They’re getting dropped off for the day and hoarding their stuff in the corner,” agreed Town Board member Pete Hammerle. “It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Try to tell 60 people to go away.”

“I don’t have a horse in this race,” said Supervisor Bill McGintee. “As soon as word gets out that they’re going to shut it down, you’re going to get an organized group of people. A lot of people utilize it. Rather than shut it down, move it away from the roadway.”

Mr. Garypie agreed that the first location for the household exchange had been ideal, but the landfill cap has since been placed over the area.

“We used to have it in the back. It was a lot better,” he said. “Now we have people walking in off the street without even cars. If they find something good, they call somebody on the phone and carry it out to the street.”

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I recall back in the 50's when I was growing up, Southampton Town Refuse Center had such an exchange area. It was monitored and unusable garbage was directed to the proper area for discard. Many low income famiiles supplied their home needs from this exchange area and it was also a "social" area where you got to meet and know people from all walks of life. There was no lineage based on financial incomes. The well-to-do saw low income people not as scavengers but as human beings trying to survive. ...more
By R Topping (6), Hudson Falls on Jun 12, 09 12:41 PM
near death or near miss?.a young child shouldn't be running around there anyway. the child should be strapped in his or her carseat while mom or dad checks out the exchange area.where are the parents??? you have em you're responsable for their safety.the town is not there to babysit your kids!
By montauk resident (41), montauk on Jun 12, 09 8:37 PM
One man's trash is.....well you know the rest.
Let the children run wild.
Later in life they'll let their children run wild.
By FTW (2), brooklyn on Jun 13, 09 12:06 AM
I'm not from Brooklyn.
In fact I think Brooklyn is hell on earth and can't fathom how anyone could ever live there.
By FTW (2), brooklyn on Jun 13, 09 12:08 AM
the few that are hanging out there all day ruining it for everyone else who abides by the rules,and unfortunately some parents do not know how to care for there children thats why we have the c.p.s.not the sanation employee's.
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Jun 14, 09 8:30 AM
The old Sag Harbor dump used to have an area where folks could leave decent items for others - whether it was furniture, clothes, toys, books. This is a wonderful way to recycle and help others out at the same time. The EH dump ends up with some really nice items - whatever the rich get bored with - old or new - they just throw out. There should be no parking in the area where this stuff is left. You either QUICKLY drop off or pick up. No kids allowed. No loitering. No hogging. Give everyone ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Jun 15, 09 2:29 PM