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Selectmen Talk Trash

by Mary Greendale
September 11, 2018

At their meeting last night, Selectmen, in turn, expressed their dissatisfaction with trash and recycling pickup provided by Republic Services. Company representatives admitted that in the month of August, 365 pick-ups of trash and/or recycling were missed.

Dan Higgins (second from right in photo), Area Municipal Services Manager, reported that Republic does 44,000 pick-ups between trash and recycling each month, and that the 365 missed pick-ups amounted to less than 1% of all. He assured the Board that the company's goal is zero missed pick-ups.

Joe Alves (right), District Manager, said that they have replaced the underperforming recycling driver, hired additional drivers and techs, added seven new vehicles to the fleet and more. Higgins admitted things are not fully fixed but expects they will be within two weeks.  

Resident Roger Boyle of 24 Quincy Place complained that he was on hold for 15-30 minutes listening to sales pitches when he contacted Republic's central call office in North Carolina to report that his trash had not been picked up. Then he was asked for his phone number and email and more information...but  got no service for eight days...and no call to explain or check on status of his pick-up.

Selectman John Cronin told Republic that, “On the customer service side – your system is broken. Why ask for the phone number? Do you call them?" The answer was no.

Selectman Mark Ahronian noted that, "Trash was not picked up at Town Hall last week..." and that situation lasted for four days. "This is where  your check gets signed, for heaven's sake!" Ahronian said Town Administrator Ritter had the DPW remove the trash, because it was such a bad situation out back. "This is absolutely unacceptable. How much should we hold back in payment for the month of August?" Ahronian demanded. "We met in June and this is still horrible. Get regional managers out on your trucks if you need to."

Marsden declared that they should use the formula for liquidated damages. "We've done it that way in the past, because that number is based in fact and reality. For August, that would be $11,850." (Liquidated damages are amounts that must be paid for failure to perform under a contract.)

After suggestions by the Board, Republic further agreed that henceforth, one pair of drivers (trash and recycling) would confirm with dispatch that all pickups had been made before leaving town. If not, the pickup would be made immediately. Marsden declared, "There’s the path to avoid this (situation) going forward." 

Higgins responded, "Thank you for patience, we will work through it – we’re embarrassed – we’ve served this town well for a long time. We’ll get back to that level."

Marijuana By-laws
In other business, Town Counsel Kate Feodoroff advised the Board on work she has been doing with the Planning Board to prepare marijuana by-laws for the Special Town Meeting on October 29th. The Town also needs to repeat a two-step process to vote on allowing retail sale of marijuana in town, because the final law and regulations passed by the state created disparities with the process that the state recommended (and Holliston used) last year.

The proposed by-laws regarding the retail sale of marijuana will be on the Town Meeting warrant (October 29th) and then there will be a ballot question at the May Town Election. 

  1. Proposed General By-law would enable Selectmen to establish rules and processes for awarding licenses for marijuana facilities in same way they do with liquor licenses and would include enforcement authority, too.
  2. Also there will be a General By-law prohibiting retail sale of marijuana as already voted by the Town. 
  3. Then there's a matching Zoning By-law for same purpose. Sometimes General By-laws are challenged as attempts to circumvent Zoning process, which is more difficult. These sometimes result in the By-law being thrown out. Counsel recommends taking this two-pronged conservative approach.
  4. Other By-laws will establish definitions of marijuana – and allow cultivation, labs and manufacture through Special Permit in industrial zone. This enables the Planning Board to impose conditions specific to a site. If existing medical growers want to change to manufacture retail pot, they will need to get a Special Permit.

Counsel clarified that Host Community Agreements do not circumvent zoning requirements for permits, and Selectmen were assured that all current marijuana growers in town know that they need permits to switch to retail production.

Pinecrest Country Club

The Board voted to have the Golf Course Advisory Committee supervise the terms of the restaurant contract at Pinecrest Country Club until July1 when they will revisit that decision. In the meantime, a new committee is being formed to assess if there is any way to expand or otherwise arrange the food services at the Clubhouse to maximize income from both the retail restaurant and from food services for golfers. Volunteers are still needed for this committee. Contact the Selectmen's Office.

In other business

The Board congratulated Martha Ellis and P. J. Kilkelly as this year's Citizens of the Year and thanked them for their service to the community.

The Board recognized the passing of George Snow, former WWII Veteran and active member of the community in Holliston for many years. 

Selectman Marsden invited downtown businesspeople to attend a meeting with the Economic Development Committee on Wednesday September 12th (TOMORROW) 7:00 in Upper Town Hall

The Superintendent of Schools provided an estimate of $72,000 to rebuild the outside gym wall at the High School. Mark Ahronian said he would ask the School Committee to put that repair high on their agenda, because there is siding missing and many birds nesting in the insulation. He thanked the Superintendent for the estimate.


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Comments (3)

I am convinced that any other company would be an upgrade from Republic. 4 months later and no improvement...I feel like we're being played, and it makes my blood boil..

- Stan Coffin | 9/12/18 10:36 PM

Regarding trash pickup, a dispatcher sounds like it may be a good idea. I am wondering how exactly it would work

- John Finneran | 9/12/18 11:59 AM

I called Republic's 800 number last month to schedule a pick-up of a dehumidifier. After waiting perhaps 15 minutes on hold, I spoke with a pleasant person who scheduled the pick up for our regular trash day. I taped a note to the unit sitting at the end of our driveway indicating I'd scheduled a pick-up for the unit, in large print. Do you think they picked it up? The answer is one syllable and begins with n. There must a better company.

- John | 9/12/18 10:20 AM



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