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Jan 2, 2013 10:36 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Gregor Hauls Away Trash Cans From County And State Roads

Jan 2, 2013 12:16 PM

While driving along Montauk Highway in recent weeks, Hampton Bays resident Larry Andersen noticed the absence of metal trash cans along his route—and, in some cases, garbage strewn on the sidewalk as a result.

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor explained this week that his department pulled more than a dozen of the town-owned receptacles from Montauk Highway and Flanders Road, the latter of which is also known as State Route 24, just before Hurricane Sandy hit in late October to prevent them from becoming “projectiles.”

But Mr. Gregor also said this week that he has no plan to return them to their posts.

He said his department does not have the funding—nor is it within its jurisdiction—to maintain public trash cans along county- and state-owned roads. He said he intends to remove all 39 cans from Montauk Highway, which is a county road, and Flanders Road throughout Southampton Town. Traditionally, there have been 15 cans in Bridgehampton, nine in Hampton Bays, five in East Quogue, four in Flanders, and three each in Water Mill and Westhampton Beach.

Funding for maintaining the trash cans has traditionally come from his Highway Department operating budget, which totaled $770,038 in 2012 and will decrease by roughly $7,000 this year. Mr. Gregor said it was a combination of that decrease and the roughly $600,000 slash to his 2013 capital budget that brought the issue to a head.

“We’re not allowed to spend town tax dollars on non-town roads,” he said. “[Town Board members] can double-talk it until the cows come home, but that’s all it boils down to, and I’ve been trying to get this squared away for three years.”

He said he recently solicited the opinion of the state comptroller’s office, and it supports his assertion that without a resolution from the Town Board requiring the highway superintendent to undertake such work, it is not within his jurisdiction to do so. The copy of the opinion he cited is dated October 1991.

In August, Mr. Gregor sent an invoice to the Town Board outlining the amount of money his department spent on various services for the first six months of 2012, including $12,628 for the removal of refuse from trash cans placed along state and county roads within the town, and asking for that amount to be reimbursed. He said he did not receive a reply—or the money.

A memo from Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray to Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Town Comptroller Leonard Marchese that same month states that Mr. Gregor is permitted to charge the town back for the costs of garbage and refuse removal, as well as leaf and brush disposal, as those actions are not within the highway superintendent’s powers and duties, according to state law.

Ms. Murray did not return calls seeking comment this week.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst maintained Wednesday morning that there is money in Mr. Gregor’s operating budget to maintain the trash cans and that Highway Department staff are paid to take care of such matters. She added that Mr. Gregor has received a larger budget than his predecessor, Bill Masterson, who held the post for 20 years, ever received.

“He doesn’t ever want to come talk about anything,” she said of Mr. Gregor, who is up for reelection in November. “These are random decisions that he makes with no heads-up to any of us.”

The supervisor added that she and the Town Board are discussing other options, such as assigning the duty to a different department or passing a resolution mandating that the Highway Department pick up the trash.

Mr. Gregor said the cans often overflow and require emptying during the summer months as frequently as three or four times a week, which means his workers are dipping into overtime to complete that task instead of focusing on storm cleanup or other duties.

Town Councilman James Malone said Monday he was disappointed to hear that Mr. Gregor had no plan to put the cans back in place, but added that he hopes to reach a compromise. Mr. Malone supported the adopted budget, including the roughly 1-percent drop in Highway Department funding this year.

“The superintendent is an independently elected official, and it is within his jurisdiction to make these decisions,” Mr. Malone said. “I respect and appreciate the superintendent’s position, but I would hope there would be another way to find a solution.”

The councilman added that he would not support giving Mr. Gregor additional funding to cover the costs of maintaining the garbage cans. “We haven’t changed the budget dramatically” he said. “Whatever took care of it last year is there this year. I don’t understand that component of it.”

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Why doesn't the Town Council direct the State/County to install trash cans and take care of their property? I understand that the Town has been doing it for years - but ya know what, Mr. Gregor is right. It's not our property, so it's not our responsibility. To the person complaining that, "we pay enough taxes - we should have some trash cans" I say, call up the County and tell them to put your County tax dollars to work.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 9:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
And he should get his kiester out on the highway near the bus stops to clean up the trash. Are you serious? Taking trash receptacles away from those locations? He does the same at all town beaches etc. It is as though peolple stop going to see the ocean or bays after labor day. They still go with a cup of coffee and leave it behind when they go. Idiot.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 9:12 AM
Blank - I see what you are saying but I'll raise two points.

One is that we have to look at the REAL problem here. Because there's no trash can, it's become acceptable to put your trash on the ground where you please? Maybe our friends and neighbors need to be more mindful and respectful

Two, one of the reasons they pull the garbage cans from those locations is because a lot of people abuse them and dump their household trash there - circumventing the fees paid via the green ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 9:18 AM
1 member liked this comment
I absolutely agree...and would add dog poop to the list of garbage that accumulates on the beaches. Not only do they take the cans away, but they don't refill the doggie bags either. There is a marked increase of dog poop on the beach in the off season..it's disgusting. I bring my own bags (and extra, to pick up other people's dog's poop), and also see that people will leave their trash where the cans were, rather than take it with them. I understand the volume of trash isn't the same in the ...more
By cpk21 (16), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 12:40 PM
Write your state and county leaders and ask them to install trash cans and have them emptied.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 12:45 PM
Not disagreeing with you Nature. But is it easier to try and do behavior modification on the bus riders, ( and those who dump household trash there) or just put some can there and pick the trash up?
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 10:12 AM
Speaking from the point of view of one who was a boy scout as youth, I have seen a certain level of laziness for decades.

Whatever you discard it was heavier while you were using it or carrying it in a pack. It really boils down to a complete lack of respect for the environment, and in the end oneself and fellow citizens. Justifying littering because "well there's so much trash in the street anyway" is ignorant beyond reproach.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Atlantic ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 4, 13 10:21 AM
Blank - go down to nice parts of South Florida - or take a trip to Madrid. Society puts an emphasis on cleanliness and personal responsibility. In Dominica no one throws trash out of their vehicle windows because they respect their surroundings. Why stop at putting garbage cans where they were? I see garbage everywhere... let's put them at every lighted intersection like tollbooths so people can immediately throw out their McDonald's wrappers when they are finished wolfing down lunch-on-the-go. ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 10:33 AM
In nice places of South Florida they have trash cans everywhere. So now Gregor took the cans away on Main St so we can have garbage blowing through the whole village of Hampton Bays. Now he can pay his men to be on foot and pick up trash. Great job security! Meanwhile the Hampton Bays Beautification committee puts all this time and effort to really make the village look nice and this moron negates the efforts. Alex Gregor puts so much time in fighting people over pennies it makes no sense. Southampton ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 4, 13 2:30 PM
Why do you want him cleaning up trash on land that's not his? Should he re-pave MTK hwy too?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 2:41 PM
Are there not laws against littering?

This is a perfect opportunity for the STPD to employ its expertise. The Chief should post some cops w/ citation books near where the most egregious littering occurs. It will deter transgressors AND possibly bring in enough revenue to cover the cops' salaries while so engaged.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 4, 13 12:23 PM
HHS - if it's dettring transgressors, how can it bring in revenue? And these people are littering County and State property - not our problem.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 12:44 PM
How about a little consistency, Hatman? The cops should leave the drunk drivers alone and focus on the litterbugs? Actually both should be targets, maybe the littering fine is not high enough.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 4, 13 2:33 PM
Then let the garbage sit there. The litter comes from residents and shops in Hampton Bays. Every town on Long Island supply garbage cans in their business district state highway or not. Maybe Gregor can piss the state off and we can get less of the Fema money nthe state will hbe handing out. The man is a jack ass.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 4, 13 4:12 PM
Voice your opinion when voting time comes. We have had garbage cans ever since I can remember. How long do you think it will take to get the County to provide and maintain garbage cans? Same thing with the leaf program, Gregor suspended the new program this year due to Sandty. It worked out, everything got cleaned up. So, why the change from the old leaf program? . Same answer with garbage cans. I will vote for the person that serves the needs of the people, not their own personal agenda.
By ReelT (8), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 2:55 PM
to Nature:

I see what you mean. The STPD should eschew exercising its enforcement powers on county property (like highways.) Capital idea!

Knowing the resourcefulness of the STPD, their oversight of illegally disposed garbage will yield tens of thousands of dollars in revenue, not only from littering fines but from all the other statutory infractions that they can parse from every act of illegal discarding (as they do in vehicle stops.) When their vigilance is publicized, the ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 4, 13 4:02 PM
HHS - in all honesty, I just love reading you ramble. It's like yoga for my eyes
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 4, 13 4:27 PM
cpk is corrrect. I walk my dog twice a day at the beach in Bridgehampton and there is always poop on the beach that no one ever picks up. I have seen several people who are regulars burying their dog's business ( and very large dogs they are) and welking away without a thought. Also on any given day especially in the summer it is the norm to see cars pull up and put garbage into the trash cansand believe it or not some are local!!! Also go to Long Beach and every can is overfull and bags set ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 4, 13 7:09 PM
PS I carry a KK bag with me and pick up plenty of garbage almost every day. Would hope others would, no, could do this as well
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 4, 13 7:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Where is Felix Unger when you need him?? RIP Oscar
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jan 4, 13 8:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Dogs and Southampton Town Code Take particular note of C and D. Did you know allowing your dog to defecate or urinate on your neighbor's property is a violation of Town Code? Same with the beache!!!!

§ 150-5. Prohibited acts.
[Amended 3-23-2004 by L.L. No. 11-2004; 2-28-2006 by L.L. No. 15-2006] It shall be unlawful for any owner of any dog or other domestic animal to permit or allow such dog or other domestic animal, in the Town of Southampton, to:
A. Be at large.

B. ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 6, 13 12:07 AM
Interesting...yes, clearly dogs should not relieve themselves on your neighbors property, but how does this also apply to the beaches? Dogs are specifically allowed there during certain times, poop bags are provided (in season), signage exists to remind you of leash laws...not sure this really applies to the beaches. Beaches aren't the premises of a PERSON...not sure if this really applies to the beach.
By cpk21 (16), Hampton Bays on Jan 7, 13 11:39 AM
Sorry listed wrong subsection. See Section E. Not E. Defecate on a Town-owned beach recreation facility, park recreation facility, park, recreation center, or the Ocean Beach Area and Bay Beach Area or within 150 feet in proximity to an access road (both Town and Trustee) that has been regulated as a parking-by-permit-only area under Chapter 312, Vehicles and Traffic, without the owner or other responsible person cleaning up such waste.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 7, 13 11:22 PM
to NTiger:

Removing dog poop from town beaches is a job made for the STPD. The chief should assign a few undercover officers to beach patrol. In between ticketing criminal pooper perps, the cops can clean up the old poop for a pristine beach.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 6, 13 12:13 PM
HHS - Removing dog poop from town beaches is a job for the dog's caretaker. S/he who brung the pooch needs to clean the poop. It's the law HHS. Some policing is self-policing. Common sense courtesy to our neighbors and beachgoers. It's not rocket science its common courtesy. Far more important issues that need police oversight. Yes this is a public health matter but police need to concentrate on public safety. Until the town board establishes a K9 poop patrol auxiliary.
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Jan 7, 13 11:27 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jan 8, 13 5:39 PM
I think he was kidding
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jan 8, 13 5:39 PM
This Mr. Andersen is a very hansome man with a very attractive scarf.......
By hauptdogg (1), Hampton Bays on Jan 7, 13 1:18 PM
Maybe the Town can dip into this $18,000 fund and give a little to Gregor for more garbage cans...

From another "local" paper:

"Southampton Town officials are planning to create a special blight mitigation fund to pay for litter cleanup on town land.
Officials say they will use about $18,000 taken from town justice court revenue to combat what they call a worsening problem. The money represents 1 percent of the funds raised by the court, after state fees are paid, according ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jan 7, 13 10:12 PM
theres one simple solution...be responsable for your own garbage!!! dont blame the cops or highway or anyone else. blame the slobs who use the beach. when i see people litter on the beach i go out of my way to grab there garbage and bring it back to them "hey guy you dropped this" "hey lady dont want you to forget your empty water bottles" and say it out loud for all to hear. there faces are priceless. maybe we can shame them into cleaning up for themselves.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Jan 7, 13 11:43 PM
"Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor/"
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jan 9, 13 9:28 PM
Be responsible? People can't even stop shooting and robbing each other. They have abortions, think a fetus isn't a baby, and abuse children. They certainly aren't going to know littering isn't allowed.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 8, 13 4:54 PM
happened to be in Hampton Bays today and was stopped for a light across from a bus bench. 2 men were eating and then throwing their garbage on the ground of which many had done before. please can we STOP the litter? Can't the town county state etc. agree on garbage cans?? how petty can the politicians be (stupid question). Let's stop the litter now.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 8, 13 7:52 PM
The litter around the bus stops is a glaring example of the cultural differences between our newly arrived immigrants and the population at large.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 9, 13 8:06 AM
A town of such stature that relies on tourism as a base of its economy should be ashamed. Wait till our visitors stop coming and providing the extra boost to our economy all because of a refusal to invest in keeping our town clean and attrative.
By Brad (28), Northampton on Jan 9, 13 9:14 AM
cpk dog poop on the beaches is a serious problem and needs to be looked at from a more sanitary point. I'm sure you would understand why if your children or grandchildren went to the beach, dug their little toes and fingers in the pristine sand and came up with poop laden toes and fingers. Seen it happen dozens of times. Time for pet owners to come up to the plate.

to GB I too go out of my way to ask people to pick up after themselves and have even given poop bags to owners (of course ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 10, 13 3:42 PM
Lets face it, it's just not the same place anymore. Change is the only constant and it sometimes not very good...
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Jan 11, 13 9:32 PM
Mr. Gregor is the head garbage man. He is the one who should be providing solutions to this problem.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Jan 12, 13 9:22 AM