GOOD Morning Wilton gets a lot of story ideas and news tips from readers, but it’s rare that one gets such a swift response from officials at the state level. Tuesday morning, June 9, when Wilton resident Nancy Dryden emailed us pictures of a rusty, unkempt barrel overflowing with garbage at the Wilton train station, it started a chain reaction all the way up to Hartford and back, and got the attention of CT’s Department of Transportation’s (CONN-DOT) real quick.
“I have noticed that rusty can for a couple of years, and finally when I saw that it was overflowing with garbage (and people still tried to pile bags on), I said to myself, ‘Who is responsible for the maintenance of this parking lot?’ I have no idea, since the folks who were running the Mexican restaurant [Vintage Salsa] closed up shop. So I thought I’d contact GOOD Morning Wilton to see if something could be done,” Dryden said in an email.
First thing in the morning, we started with our local officials, forwarding the photos to first selectman Bill Brennan, Dept. of Public Works head Tom Thurkettle, town planner Bob Nerney, State Sen. Toni Boucher and State Rep. Gail Lavielle. We wanted to find out whose job it was to take care of it, and why it had gotten so bad in the first place.
Lavielle and Boucher responded immediately. Lavielle said she had reached out to CONN-DOT, and kept us in the loop when she was told that it was Metro North’s responsibility. Boucher was told by Brennan’s office that DOT oversees care of the stations.
Brennan confirmed that in a mid-morning email: “The Wilton Train Station and parking lots are owned by the State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation (DOT). Management responsibility is under Rail Operations Property Management,” he wrote, adding that he had placed an immediate call to DeMarco Management, the property management vendor contracted by CONN-DOT to oversees the train station’s maintenance.
But if CONN-DOT was supposedly responsible, and if they told Lavielle it was Metro-North’s problem, then whose job was it really? And why were they each pointing to the other guy and saying, ‘It’s not my job, it’s HIS job!’
Midday, one thing was becoming clear: that overflowing, derelict garbage can overdue for an emptying was starting to serve as a pretty good symbol for what many a Wilton rail commuter can say they experience every day⎯neglect, mistreatment, aging equipment and delays in service and attention.
All we were after was finding out two main things: just who was responsible for the station’s upkeep, and what did they have to say about what passengers–Wilton riders or others–must think each time they see that rusty, overstuffed garbage can?
We reached out for comments from representatives of both CONN-DOT and Metro-North. Metro-North’s spokesman, Aaron Donovan, couldn’t have been nicer; he said he’d look into the matter and get back to us. He did so quickly, and said who we really should be directing all questions to was the CONN-DOT press rep.
Messages by email and voice mail to Judd Everhart, the communications person for CONN-DOT, went almost entirely unanswered by press time, except for an email that said, “Thanks, I’ll get back to you.” We’re still waiting. (Which, by the way, is something rail commuters frequently say when they wonder when service improvements will trickle down to the Danbury line, or when the scheduled departure time comes and goes and there’s still no train is in sight–We’re still waiting.)
Lavielle agrees. “This kind of negligence is inexcusable. The accumulation of waste is both unsightly and unhealthy. The railroad needs not only to collect it more often, but also to provide larger and more numerous receptacles. This is one more thing that can make Danbury Line commuters, who have to put up with enough discomfort and inconvenience every day, feel like they don’t matter. Thanks to the photographer for his or her vigilance. We’ve sent the photos to the DOT to pass on to Metro-North, and I hope that this will remind the railroad maintenance team to keep the Wilton station clean from now on.”
Boucher was also just as upset. “I am disgusted by these photos. It is truly a case of dereliction of duty. If the proper agency can’t pick up the trash or supply the commuters with an appropriate receptacle then how are we to trust them with safety on the tracks? Whomever is responsible needs to fix this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Later that afternoon Brennan’s office let us know that DeMarco Management had called to say, “…the situation with the trash was taken care of.” And by 2:45 p.m., it certainly was–the rusty can with garbage spilling over the top had been taken away, and while there’s still some litter cluttering up the tracks, at least the garbage pile was gone.
But that leaves another question: Where should riders throw their garbage now, as no garbage receptacle was left to replace the rusty can? Perhaps we’ll just have to wait for that answer, too.
Yikes. There should be several dedicated bins with cans for waste and recycling like they have at the South Norwalk station. Perhaps one benefit of the proposed multi-unit housing complex nearby will be additional pressure to improve this station.
Comments are closed.