At its most recent meeting (Monday, March 19), the Board of Selectmen considered whether the town could help residents with cleanup and pickup of debris from the most recent nor’easter storms. The BOS members ultimately decided that picking up private property storm debris would be too costly for the town to perform, so the town will not pick up any debris from residents or businesses.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice led the discussion, noting that while the town has assisted residents with cleaning up storm debris in the past, there were several reasons why doing so after the recent snow storms would be both difficult and cost-prohibitive.
Hurricane Sandy and other storms, which caused similarly heavy damage, occurred in the fall–a less-busy time of the year for Wilton’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Parks & Grounds crews. Spring is the busiest time of the year for both of those departments.
Among the areas of focus in spring for the DPW, filling potholes is prime among the season’s responsibilities for that town department. The DPW also starts catch basin and prep work in advance of spring road paving, and DPW crews are also facing significant clean-up of debris on town roads and rights of way.
Parks and Grounds are focused on getting playing fields ready for spring sports, and they are at work on cleaning up debris from school properties, town properties and town trails.
According to Vanderslice, both departments expect clean up and disposal work will continue for a several weeks.
Any assistance from the town for cleaning up debris on private properties, both commercial and residential, would require hiring outside contractors–the same contractors available to residents. The only way that would be possible would be if the town passed along any costs related to such cleanup to the residents who participated.
The costs incurred by the storms–both during and after–is projected to be expensive for the town. Not only have town employees incurred overtime–Vanderslice said that during the week of the storm, the average DPW worker incurred 41.6 hours of overtime–but the town has also had to hire outside contractors to perform certain tree work.
It was also noted that Wilton’s transfer station does not accept debris, nor does the Town typically provide assistance after a storm–with two exceptions:
- After a fall storm–one which Town officials did elect to pick up storm debris–residents were instructed to leave only storm debris at the edge of their property for pick up. Numerous problems occurred including residents leaving non-storm related debris and contents other than debris. The effort was much more time consuming and expensive than the Town had expected. The recommendation was made not to do the same thing again.
- After Hurricane Sandy, once it was known that FEMA would cover 75% of associated costs, officials opted to provide a supervised area for residents to drop off debris to be chipped and/or disposed of by the Town.
Vanderslice also explained what surrounding towns do regarding debris:
- Weston, like Wilton, does not accept debris at its transfer station. They have not announced any changes in practice.
- New Canaan is only picking up debris, which originated from the right of way, and will not pick up any non right of way debris placed in the right of way.
- Westport, which accepts debris at the transfer station and picks up leaves, is allowing free debris disposal at its transfer station. Only debris that has fallen in the right of way will be picked up by Westport town crews.
- Ridgefield’s transfer station accepts debris. They have not announced any changes in practice.
- Trumbull, which allows residents a onetime per year bulk pick up, is allowing residents to use that one pick up for storm debris.
This is a very big disappointment!
The beauty of our town has taken a big hit with these four storms. It is very naive to think homeowners will remove all of the huge branches that the DPW had to quickly push off the road. All over town these huge limbs are sticking into the right of ways scratching up cars…..why are we ignoring this potential accident waiting to happen??? What about our visual blight rules ? At the very LEAST trimming should be undertaken ASAP to reduce these obvious SAFETY concerns!
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