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Uncollected Trash

Refuse in the streets, left by city employees, reflects poor work ethic and thwarts beach recovery efforts

Mayor Blake,

Please do your job and administer Milford city services, as you were elected to do.

This morning again, Public Works behaved like a sullen child. In fact, as trash removal services rolled past the trash containers on East Broadway, leaving them uncollected and easy pickings for birds and animals, I questioned why my covered receptacle was not emptied. The city employee quipped back an adolescent answer.

As you’ll see in accompanying photos, East Broadway is not only awash in trash from Hurricane Sandy and the snowstorm Nemo, but in today’s trash left uncollected by Public Works. More than ten days after the snowstorm, huge snow banks block parking spaces for many residents who live year round at Milford beach, and more dangerously, block the vision of motorists and pedestrians approaching area intersections.Trash services are sporadic.

Has Milford not cultivated its shoreline real estate over the years? Does it not benefit from active beach recreational enterprise? Is the tax base not amply supplemented by the shoreline community—owners and renters who pay high taxes and rents? Does it not benefit from residents who volunteer for beach cleanups? Aren’t beach residents entitled to the same services the rest of Milford receives? How can the city bite the hand that feeds it—its residents?

The massive amount of snow that fell impeded normal living for all of us, whether we live on a city street, country road or at the beach. Most of us waited patiently for the roads to be plowed, but beach dwellings were left behind. Still, with trash day approaching, we dutifully placed our recycling containers and trash receptacles on top of the snow—since the only other place to deposit them was in the middle of a narrow street.

Having been the brunt of Public Works’ unfoundedly sloppy treatment in the past, I was especially careful to place my covered bin in easy reach, on the snow. Other students who live adjacent, left their bins on the sidewalk, clearly in reach as well.  Trash was properly bagged.

But ill-tempered Public Works employees refused pick up.

The only guess to explain why Public Works’ refuses to pick up this trash is volume. Indeed, our stretch of the road is populated by many students crowded into beach cottages, as owners like to maximize rental income and the city encourages this. Yes, students are notorious for trashing the neighborhood. But if only one bin is misplaced, our trash collectors whiz by another ten bins, properly placed.

Does this carelessness, and callousness, serve the larger community or the city of Milford? Does it enhance Milford’s coastline? Milford beaches are the most unkempt beaches in southern Connecticut, and we can thank our Public Works department, and Mayor Blake’s lack of attention, for that.

When it comes to city services at the beach, the city is absent. Mayor Blake permits the Public Works department to arbitrarily decide when to apply city services, and when not to; when to pick up trash, when to leave it; when and how much snow to remove.

Why does this natural resource, the precious shoreline, suffer the abuse not only of nature, but of its own city employees?

Mayor Blake, reign in your capricious and ineffective Public Works employees or replace them with people who care about their city.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cindy Lee Durner February 20, 2013 at 12:15 PM
The picking up of trash problem (or lack of) is not exclusive to the coastal community. I live inland and am part of a family of two. I can't tell you how many times my trash cans have intentionally been passed by. Which then requires a phone call and a return trip. What a waste of time and resources. But I especially love when my trash cans are left smack in the middle of my driveway or better yet, in the middle of the road! I don't know if we can necessarily blame the mayor but if the D of PW employees are unhappy with the work they do maybe the should ponder the thought of unemployment? There are a record number of people out of work, desperate for a job to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Give someone who would be grateful for a job a chance.
CB February 20, 2013 at 12:43 PM
I especially love when the collectors drop trash on the road and don't pick it up. I guess their mothers never made them clean up after themselves.
Michael Krauss February 20, 2013 at 01:24 PM
I have lived in Milford all of my life. And, quite honestly I feel that the Department of Public Works/Sanitation Department has not only done exemplary work over the years but especially in this blizzard recovery it has been nothing short of amazing. I live at the beach at it is maintained and is inviting to all. Garbage/Recycling is not only always picked up on schedule but the empty containers are left completely empty and in a reasonably secure manner. I congratulate Mayor Blake and Public Works Director Bruce Kolwicz for a job very well done.
kokopop February 20, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Wow, I thought I was the only one to complain. It seems the garbage men leave a lot to be desired. There are times when they don't take all the trash in the can and I wonder if it was frozen inside or just laziness....its just laziness. I have found my cans two doors down and the old recycle bins were constantly thrown from the truck breaking several....of course then the town wants you to "buy" a new one. And if you don't buy a new bin, they refuse to take the recycables because they aren't in a "designated" bin....I hate every Monday when the dreaded garbage men come by.
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 02:01 PM
I’m glad that you don’t have to deal with poor trash and snow removal services, Michael, but on our beachside street, this has not been the case.
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Thanks Larissa, I wrote to the mayor but will definitely take advantage of open door policy.
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Cindy, Covers to trash bins are left strewn in street and run over by traffic, so we have to purchase new also. Maybe the city profits from this with investments in Rubbermaid? ;- )
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 02:23 PM
I know exactly how you feel Kokopop—each Monday I wonder what kind of drama we’ll have this week. Maybe you’re right that it’s laziness, but I think it’s planned avoidance of work. They spend more time devising regulations about what NOT to pick up, than picking up trash. Milford’s regulations are more restrictive than New York City’s, where refuse is picked up daily. And the treatment Milford citizens receive when they report missed trash, by email or phone, is sullen and rude. Or, they don’t respond at all. I never get a sense of anyone in Public Works being serious about their job—wanting to provide good service, having clean streets or being interested in solving a problem.
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Why should a street look worse after Public Works has come through? Our street, with remnants of Hurricane Sandy, snow drifts and uncollected garbage, looks like a refugee zone.
Jessie Brown February 20, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Here is a suggestion: Why not ask Mayor Blake to eliminate trash pick up as a city service, reduce your taxes that cover that expense and you can do like some neighboring towns and hire your own trash removal company to pick up your trash. Then if it isn't done to your liking, you can call the company and complain or hire a new company yourself or take your own trash to the dump.
Casey February 20, 2013 at 04:42 PM
I also live inland and am also a family of two. They stopped picking up my trash years ago. Sometimes they would take half of a can, sometimes just roll on by. I finally decided it was just easier to take my trash to the dump instead of lugging it to the street and lugging it back up full or half full. I guess that means they won with me.
Pamela R. February 20, 2013 at 04:47 PM
I'm afraid I have to agree with the people who are complaining. Any opportunity to not collect trash is taken...it's too heavy, it wasn't seen, etc. We've invested more money in new trash cans over the years than I care to admit. The trash can tops are thrown like frisbees. We see our cans thrown down, while our neighbors cans are nicely placed. I guess for some reason the trash collectors don't like us. Could it be because we've never left a tip at Christmas? Maybe we have too much trash? Who knows. I've given up trying to second guess them.
Chris Yerkes February 20, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Unacceptable. I don't know how you deal with that, Mary. Occasionally my garbage men will leave my garbage and I have no idea why. I then have to look up on the internet what small rule I may have broken. Aggravating, but no where near your experience. I hope you get through to the mayor.
John Pasnau February 20, 2013 at 05:14 PM
It is the tip. I put an envelope with 4 five dollar bills in an envelope taped to the lid of a can each year. Never had a problem with thrown cans, tops, dropped trash, noise or broken bins. But I used to. 20 bucks goes a long way and is worth it!
Beach Goer February 20, 2013 at 05:17 PM
I am sad to say I agree with this article. The East Broadway area is still in disarray. I live on a side street off of Broadway and it is a mess. ( I am going on a tangent here) There are piles of garbage everywhere, mattresses/furniture thrown about. The side streets still have piles from Sandy that have not been touched in months. Homeowners drag their debris away from their homes and make community piles that everyone keeps adding on to. Not removing the garbage on the streets isn't anything new, we need help down there. I hear about all this aid that has been collected to help the victims of Sandy, but have yet to see it benefit our friends and neighbors. How about private help, if the public works are bogged down with storm clean-up, etc. My house was destroyed and had to be demolished ( a heartbreaking process in itself), but for the people that have to renovate most of their houses or lift them, why can't we subsidize this process with all the aid that has been collected? I keep hearing that the United Way, and other groups keep most of this money for themselves and I am beginning to believe it.
Nicole February 20, 2013 at 05:52 PM
I have to disagree because our garbage men are fantastic and even met me half way up my driveway the other day because my garbage can was buried in the snow and I had to carry 4 bags out to the curb. He could have just watched as I carried it but he didn't.
Hal DePino February 20, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I've lived in Milford for almost 30 years and have never, ever had public works pass my garbage cans by with one exception. I put a bungee cord over the can to keep out the racoons. A phone call to public works gave me a reasonable explanation why my cans were left untouched (a hazard to the workers, one guy almost lost an eye when a bungee cord snapped). And I have never tipped them either. Sometimes the covers to the cans are left on the road and sometimes my cans might be left on end, but every single week those guys take the time to return the can of my elderly neighbor back to the side of her home. To those complaining, have you called public works and asked why your garbage has not been collected? Have you expressed concern over the way your cans are left? @Mary Knight - you say when you asked why your garbage was left unemptied "The city employee quipped back an adolescent answer." What was his answer? I find it hard to believe these workers would leave a can untouched without a legitimate reason.
Angus February 20, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Agreed regarding the tip. I do it a few times a year. Well worth it.
bibledoctor02 February 20, 2013 at 06:03 PM
gen xers or even y ers slackers they call them most of us boomers are retiring early.
Michael Brown February 20, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Mary, Where on East Broadway do you live?
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Hal, Please see the photos I uploaded today, one day after Public Works refused pick up. Two doors down from my house, there is trash all over the sidewalk and street. This is not an isolated incident. All photos on this blog present an accurate picture of how Public Works is NOT performing its job, and what Public Works IS doing to the coastline. Where do you think this trash will end up? Good for you if you've had positive experiences with Public Works; you were fortunate they responded to your telephone call. I also commend any employee who takes care of the elderly. But they haven't responded to my calls or emails, and it appears they haven't responded well to most citizens in this blog. The Public Works employee yelled several times, that he doesn't pull a container out of snow, and to bring my complaints to City Hall. So I did.
RONALD M GOLDWYN February 20, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Mary, Please respond to Mike Brown. He is a leader in the Milford Democratic Town Committee and has ties to our Mayor. He may be a good link to Democratic Mayor. Blake. You should also contact all your Aldermen either by phone, email or in person at the beginning of any meeting of the Board.
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Mayor Blake, Why is it a battle to get city services and why do residents lose to city officials? (See Casey's comment above.) Why must we bribe our city employees with tips to get good service? Isn’t Public Works Director Bruce Kolwicz among the top twenty wage earners in Milford?
Mary Knight February 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM
In the 700s Michael, water side. Just look for the spilled trash shown in today's photos.
C.S. February 21, 2013 at 01:06 AM
This sort of service is well worth out taxes going up. Mary, a few years back we also had this same problem, only with our recycling. Every Monday we had to make a call for them to send a separate vehicle to collect the recycling. I asked why they would not pick up of recycling and was told it was due to the fact that the plastic water bottles had caps on them (pre deposit) and that the caps were not recyclable, so we started making sure the caps were off, still no pick up, so I took photos of the neighbors' recycling with the capped water bottles which they always emptied, and once I had enough pictures I met with the then Mayor Jim Richetelli and he assured that it would be taken care of, and whatever he did it was. I feel your pain Mary, stay with the cause.
C.S. February 21, 2013 at 01:07 AM
The patch really needs an edit post option. Pick up THE recycling, sorry.
Concerned Parent February 21, 2013 at 03:02 AM
I've been in Milford for 17 years and never experienced a problem with public works. Between Hurricane Sandy and the blizzard, public works was faced with some real challenges in order to do their pickups. If there is still debris hanging around from Sandy down by Silver Sands, I would direct concerns to the home owners who left it there and not necessarily the mayor or public works dept.
Martin Casey February 21, 2013 at 03:16 AM
The photo of the black garbage bags ripped apart by animals seems to show that those black bags are filled with mostly recyclable garbage (glass, plastics, aluminum), which as we all know as citizens of Milford and 'single-stream recyclers' belong in those lovely big green bins that we were all issued last year, and not mixed in with regular trash. I don't think the city garbage men are supposed to pick up recyclables... isn't that contracted out to CRRA?
Michael Nelson February 21, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Does anyone have any idea if Milford will ever go to automatic trash bins? My trash cans are in need of replacing and I prefer not to put in the investment if, in a few years, they'll be trash...
Michael Nelson February 21, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Whoa, Ed... Hi Michael Nelson, Ed commented on Uncollected Trash, which you are following. "MIchael, I suggest you buy some heavy duty garbage bags because I refuse to use my hard earned tax dollars to pay for something you can very easily purchase at Walmart." My question wasn't about tax dollars - try decaf tomorrow. I simply asked whether anyone knows if the Milford DPW is changing over to automated trash bin service. And on a related note, perhaps after a little researching, you'd recognize that the cost savings of not needing 4 guys per truck but one saves a town millions, assuming the town can get over the hump of explaining this cost savings to the unions who would be losing members... A simple "nope - I have no idea" would have sufficed, Ed.

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