With beach stickers currently on sale for the coming year, town officials have once again turned their attention to the longstanding problem of beach trash collection.
In a meeting on March 27, Scituate officials decided to replace trash barrels with trash dumpsters at some area beaches this summer to help ease the burden on town employees who can’t get to the barrels often enough.
Egypt Beach and Peggotty Beach will see the changes, with trash dumpsters to be placed near the beach parking lots.
The dumpsters will take the place of the 35-gallon drums currently on all area beaches as a way to mitigate problems town officials are having with trash collection.
“We have staff members who work through the weekends emptying those all weekend long…they also do it during the week, but you can never keep up with the trash barrels at the beach, and you end up with trash where people are sitting. It attracts seagulls and other things, so it’s an unattractive situation,” said DPW Director Al Bangert.
Rather than eliminate barrels altogether, requiring visitors to carry out whatever trash they bring in, like many national parks and most Cape beaches do, Bangert suggested the 6x4x4 foot dumpster option.
The dumpster would be emptied on Fridays and Mondays by a trash hauler.
“Before we started off this path, I wanted to review this for you,” Bangert said to selectmen at a recent meeting. “It can be viewed as a positive change because we don’t have trash accumulating on the beach, or it could be viewed as a reduction of service.”
Selectmen decided to try out the new arrangement on two of the town’s beaches where, due to the configuration of the parking lot near the beach, it would probably work best.
Even then, selectmen said there might be issues.
“If you remove [the barrels] my first concern is violators…and they will probably be very clever about it,” selectman John Danehey said.
People might not take their trash off the beach at all, Danehey said, or use the dumpsters as a place to put household trash.
According to Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi, however, there are already people who use the barrels for household trash and don’t throw things away.
Additionally, this wouldn’t be at an added expense to the town. Scituate currently spends $15,000-$18,000 on trash removal from the beaches annually, mostly because of the high cost of the extra heavy bags and overtime for DPW employees to collect trash.
“This might make it a bit less unsightly…but we’ll pilot it in one place and see how it works. In some areas it may never work,” Vinchesi said.
In addition to the new dumpster option, Selectman Jo Norton also suggested that lifeguards help pick up after people at the beginning or end of their shifts.
“The lifeguards are down on the beach, they are right there. If they were brought in half an hour earlier and paid double time before the beach opens or when it closes. To pick up trash in their immediate area, it would solve the problem, and it’s an extra hour’s pay,” he said.
If trash accumulates on the beach with the new option, Bangert said the town would send out DPW employees, and perhaps employ lifeguards, to help with the problem.