Smile!

Town officials have installed a surveillance camera at the entrance to the Duxbury Transfer and Recycling Station to prevent scofflaws from dumping their trash – and from browsing at “the mall” for others’ castoffs and selling them at profit. Public Works Director Peter Buttkus said the camera has been running for a couple of weeks and initial results were alarming.

“The first day we had 100 cars go through and 12 didn’t have stickers,” said Buttkus.

Currently, a vehicle residential sticker is $25 and a non-residential van or pick-up sticker is $400. Though the surveillance program cost the town $3,750 with an additional monthly service fee, Buttkus anticipates it will eventually pay for itself by stopping illegal dumping.

 

“It’ll help us to keep people out. We pay a lot to SEMASS, $98.50 per ton,” said Buttkus of Covanta SEMASS, which hauls and disposes Duxbury’s solid waste.

Another advantage to the surveillance program, according to Buttkus, is now the four transfer station employees are freed up to tend to other duties rather than constantly monitor the gate. A recent trip to the station found several attendants overseeing various posts around the area and another outside the gates, clearing trash and debris from nearby woods. The new system is not expected to result in the elimination of any positions.

According to officials, “the mall,” a popular feature of the transfer station, attracts unlawful visitors both within and outside of Duxbury. It consists of a well-organized trailer filled floor-to-ceiling with books and a take-it-or-leave-it area for gently used objects. Residents have been known to donate furniture, sports equipment, even antiques that have then been resold in area shops or over the Internet.

Duxbury resident Donna Johnson is happy to know those who do not purchase stickers but use the facility will now be made to abide by the law.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Johnson, noting she wished the mall section were open only to Duxbury residents – herself especially. “People come in here from consignment shops, but on the other hand, they recycle. I’m of two minds. I’m in favor of it.”

Resident Don Murray agreed that everyone should adhere to the same level of fairness and the surveillance system will ensure that. “A lot of people come in from out of town. I’m in favor of [the surveillance system] as long as they play it on the Duxbury Channel.”

Buttkus said the camera isn’t designed to photograph people or their cars, but is positioned to read license plates. The department will have the ability to retrieve the data daily and plans to take appropriate action once any problems with the system have been sorted. He wanted to assure the public this isn’t a Big Brother policy. The goal is to catch those breaking the law, said Buttkus, not spy on law-abiding citizens.

“If people are concerned about surveillance cameras at the transfer station,” said Buttkus, “let them know we’re not worried about them taking the trash.”