WINCHESTER - Two residents who work for commercial hauling companies, one of whom services Winchester Hospital, asked the Select Board, Town Manager and DPW Director to keep the Transfer Station open a little longer so they could dispose of their commercial waste. The board agreed.
With COVID-19 forcing many towns and cities to either cancel or postpone meetings, the board chose to video conference their usual Monday night meeting. During the Matters from the Audience portion, two people videoed in to discuss the new Transfer Station hours put in place due to the coronavirus.
DPW Director Jay Gill explained how the DPW will begin shift work today whereby employees work in shifts to avoid everyone possibly catching the coronavirus at once. That change forced him to close the Transfer Station for two days.
One of the commercial haulers, George Nowell, expressed confusion over the change. He said it would cause trucks to get full waiting for the station to open. He asked the board to consider restoring the original hours or doing “something less drastic.”
Another commercial hauler, Dawn Johnson, expressed similar concerns. She mentioned how businesses were still generating the same amount of rubbish, citing Winchester Hospital and restaurants as examples (though restaurants and eateries are closed to the public, they can still offer takeout and delivery service).
She acknowledged while the change in operation helps the DPW and residents, it hurts businesses like hers as she currently has eight trucks on the road.
“I understand closing it for residents,” she remarked, “but not commercial haulers.”
She added how it’s a sanitation issue, too, saying her and Nowell’s services are needed more now than ever. They’re dealing with a lot of tonnage of trash, and she felt the Transfer Station is now closed more than it’s opened.
Gill said he’s spoken with Winchester Hospital and they’re working with the town. He agreed to open the Transfer Station early on Thursdays to accommodate the commercial haulers. Neither he nor the board or Town Manager gave specific details on what time it would open, however.
Members of the board backed the plan, with Michael Bettencourt calling it a good idea to reduce traffic flow and Susan Verdicchio suggesting it made sense to try.
When asked if closing the station two days more than usual involved money or social distancing, Gill called it a safety measure. He added how lots of communities are doing something similar with their DPWs, but Winchester is in a unique position as most don’t have a Transfer Station. Most communities offer curbside pickup.
Therefore, with the board and DPW in favor, the Transfer Station will open early on Thursday, but only for commercial haulers.