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Sanitation District Ripped at Town Hall Meeting

Residents complain about quality of pickup and workers.

Garbage left in the streets, cans not being emptied, garbage cans and lids not being returned to where they’re supposed to be, and in some instances, garbage and recycling not being picked up at all, sometimes for weeks.

These were the most common complaints lobbed at officials last Tuesday at a town hall meeting hosted by the Village of Lawrence. Almost every resident in attendance shared the same sense that services have gone downhill in the past few years, and that the fault lies in the attitudes of sanitation workers.

“For us as a community, to have this meeting shows [service has] gone downhill and there’s a lack of management on the street,” said Lawrence Mayor Martin Oliner. “If you had a foreman, there’s no way there would be garbage on the street.”

In more extreme instances, residents said that sanitation workers threw garbage bags like it was the “garbage-men Olympics,” broke through fences or ruined shrubs, cursed in front of children, verbally abused residents and told people to stop complaining to the district.

“You’re not doing well at all,” one resident, who didn’t identify himself, told the officials. “We pay large, engorged taxes, we don’t expect to come to meeting to discuss garbage.”

The Sanitary District 1 officials — Commissioners James Vilardi and Frank Argento and Assistant Superintendent George Pappas — acknowledged they need to keep their workers in check.

“When serving 18,000 homes, there will be problems,” Argento said. “When we start holding people accountable, the message gets to the staff.”

But, he added, “We’re dealing with a union, so it’s hard to terminate them. The bottom line is we get the issues and we get the message.”

The officials said that they suspended one crew in Woodmere for leaving garbage in the streets, and that they would start putting foremen on crews in Lawrence.

Sanitary District 1 will also start sending out mailings to tell residents about what to expect during that particular season and when sanitation services will not take place, officials said. The district is also upgrading its recycling facility and computer system to better track trucks and special pickup requests.

It wasn’t all negative at the meeting, however. Residents praised the district for its backdoor pickup and special pickup services, and commended the officials for their responsiveness.

Pappas promised the district would do its best to improve right away.

“You’re going to have smiling faces tomorrow morning,” he said.

Amy Unknown November 22, 2011 at 02:35 PM
I live in N Woodmere, (Town of Hempsted) The garbage men over the past few years are awful. Most of the time they leave half of the garbage in the can, leave the cans at the curb and garbage in the streets. Plus they are loud and obnoxious, that I can hear them clearly from inside my home. Maybe they dont get that people are out of jobs and looking for work. I think their jobs should be filled with people that appreciate working. From what I hear these guys make a good living, give it to people that deserve it !
jake December 29, 2011 at 06:02 AM
i live in inwood near number 2 and my garbage men always pick up everything at my house ...i never have to call and complain ever
ELVIS September 15, 2012 at 11:27 AM
AS I RETIRED FROM THE SANATATION IT IS THE JOB OF THESE WORKERS TO PICK UP YOUR GARBAGE "NOT CLEAN UP YOUR GARBAGE"IF A BAG IS RIPPED OPEN BY AN ANIMAL ENDS UP IN YARDS THIS BEING BLAMED ON WORKERS AND ALL THESE PEOPLE THAT SAY THEY THINK THEY CAN HANDLE THIS JOB TRY LIFTING BAGS THAT MOST OF YOU OVER FILL WHEN PULLED OUT OF CANS RIP OR TEAR AND PAILS CANT EVEN BE LIFTED AFTER SO MANY YEARS AND SEVERAL OPERATIONS LATER STILL HURTING YES OVER MY STUPITIDY "NOT STAYING IN SCHOOL" OR FOR SOME OF US WHO HAD TO LEAVE SCHOOL DO TO CIRCUMSTANCES YES THE WORKERS HAVE TO BE KEPT IN CHECK BUT THINK ABOUT ALL ENDS WHEN TALKING I REALLY WOULD LIKE TO SEE ALL THEM "MOTOR MOUTHS THAT CAN KEEP UP WITH THREE QUATERS OF THESE MEN THAT BREAK BACKS ARMS LEGS PICKING UP LOOSE TAMPONS CAT LITTER DRIPPING DOWN THERE BACKS DOG SH.. NOT EVEN IN BAGS IN PAILS SO GIVE IT A SHOT LET ME KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO GO HOME SMELLING LIKE ROSES THANKS FOR YOUR TIME
Rick September 27, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I was not aware of this forum. I have had many issues with the men/BOYS that are on my route, truck 21. How many times was I approched by them for tip money, for doing what is their job! As a former civil servant myself, I am aware of how inappropriate even accepting a tip is never mind requesting one! Add to this, that they decide to pick up the recycling with the regular garbage just to not have to work on recycling day, and take what should be left for special pick up when they get a tip. I have witnessed this happen many times. There are so many people out of work. I question why management lets this happen. I do understand they work for a union, but what is the reprimand for not doing your job properly???? More tip money????

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