Editorial: Dumping on Southampton hamlets needs to stop

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Refuse in woods along Oak Avenue in Flanders.

Southampton officials have long resisted establishing garbage districts within the town.

But it’s a big town, geographically. And what might be good for Noyack or Shinnecock Hills might not be good for Flanders and Riverside.

In fact, civic leaders in Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, which include some of the town’s most economically depressed areas, are telling their elected leaders that garbage districts will help clean up their parks, highways and neighborhoods.

If Southampton officials don’t listen to and act on this request, they will be doing their constituents in these oft-forgotten hamlets a disservice.

Most of the land surrounding tri-hamlet area neighborhoods consists of protected woodlands, with nothing much else around. Such spots make prime dumping grounds. And the reality is that optional, private garbage pickup service can get expensive, and not everyone has a pickup truck — or even a car — to haul trash themselves to town transfer or recycling stations.

That’s resulted in illegal dumping all over the area, often in protected, ecologically fragile lands acquired with taxpayer dollars.

Southampton Town needs to lead by example and explore all possible means to help improve the quality of life in an area so used to getting dumped on, not only by scofflaws but also by local governments themselves.

Riverhead Town established garbage districts in the mid-1990s. When Riverhead’s sanitation head John Reeve was asked at Monday’s Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association meeting if there have been problems with illegal dumping in Riverhead since the garbage district went into effect, he said, “It’s down to almost nil. There’s no need to dump it if you have curbside service.”

That should be enough evidence for the Southampton Town Board to act on this request.

While houses in other parts of Southampton Town are spread out, making public pickup service cost-prohibitive, the homes in most neighborhoods in the tri-hamlet area are close together, just like in Riverhead, where public pickup makes sense. So it’s easy and profitable for a company to go from house to house picking up trash.

There’s really no good reason why garbage districts aren’t already up and running.