To The Editor:
I have been following the Island discussions in the newspaper regarding financial hardships, particularly in Oak Bluffs but in other Island towns as well. Today I witnessed not only once but four times what I would characterize as stealing.
As most of the readers know, one of the most expensive services in all the Island towns is trash collection. It is not cheap to get rid of anything on our Island. Well today, while waiting for the shuttle at the Tisbury Park and Ride, I observed a traveler haul his household trash from the back of the parking lot. Running to make the shuttle, we had to wait as he disposed of his trash in the barrel near the bus stop. Man you have to have some nads to pull this off in public with a bus full of people staring at you.
This type of thievery was witnessed four times in one day, twice in Tisbury and twice in Oak Bluffs, at various public locations. Now, I imagine my little sampling during the day is just the tip of the iceberg.
How much does it cost us to get rid of this stuff? Well, we can continue to get ripped off by those who see municipal trash cans as their household dumpsters, or the Island towns can reap the financial benefits by implementing one or two simple programs.
Firstly, let me state that the trash sticker is the easiest method to manipulate, and for the most part it is a scam on the Island. Trash collectors enforcing the use of stickers; nobodies getting away with disposing of trash without a sticker?
If the Island towns could agree on one foolproof method, it would be the trash totter. Each household is levied an annual tax for trash removal. This tax allows each homeowner to have one totter (trash can, 50 gallon) picked up weekly at their address. If you leave the Island, (say, for Florida) annually, you must contact the town, they will pick up your empty totter and return it to you when you arrive home from your trip. Your trash tax will be abated for no trash pickup for the time the town holds your totter. The minimum time for abatements would be three months. If your stay is shorter you do not receive an abatement.Every property owner on the Island is charged for trash. So the cheaters that carry their trash to public containers are in fact already paying for trash removal.
A second method is to use trash bags embossed with the town logo. You could sell them for whatever amount is necessary to make trash pickup pay for itself. Trash may only be disposed of in these bags, usually bright orange, blue, or red. These colors stand out and when trash trucks return to the disposal site, any bag not the color of the pay-for trash will be quickly recognized and the trash collectors held responsible. This method would not discourage illegal dumping but would help municipal trash pickup to be more efficient and economical.
And for those who think that any open land is their dumping ground for couches, TVs, air conditioners, and medical waste, hefty fines or arrest should be the answer. We claim to be an Island of environmentally aware citizenry, yet roadside trash and illegal dumping reign supreme.