Power Lines Turned Into Dumping Ground

No entity is taking responsibility for the litter strewn about the power lines.

The woods near the power lines along Merchants Path and Townline Road seem to be a dumping ground.

Sinead Fitzgibbon, who uses the trails to run and mountain bike, said she has documented nine complaints with the Town of East Hampton in an attempt to have the area cleaned up.

Trash — from household garbage to old furniture — is strewn about, along with shell casings and other debris. "The shells are from lead shot which is no doubt leaching into our precious aquifer, along with the garbage which has been sitting there for nine months now despite repeated calls and visits to East Hampton Town Hall," Fitzgibbon noted in a recent email.

Betsy Bambrick, the director of code enforcement, said on Wednesday that an investigation has been opened up into the matter, but declined to give further details.

In the meantime, "The place is getting worse weekly and dumping invites more dumping if not removed," Fitzgibbon said.

The responsibility for the area seems to be a complicated issue. The area along the power lines spans Wainscott, Sagaponack, and the unicorporated part of Sag Harbor. It falls under several different jurisdictions, including the Town of East Hampton, the Town of Southampton, and Suffolk County.

For years, the Southampton Trails Preservation Society picked up the slack, pulling out countless loads of trash from that area, including broken-down, abandoned cars, according to Dai Dayton, a former president who also heads up the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt (The power lines actually run right through the middle of the Greenbelt).

But, the area would just become trashed all over again. "You'd clean it up and the next day it's right back to the way it was," Dayton said.

Volunteers have somewhat given up because the towns have not come up with a solution to combat the dumping in the first place, she said.

She believes the only solution lies in cutting off vehicular access to the dirt road that runs along the power lines. She said it's a suggestion that's been made before, but between the private properties around the area, the town and county jurisdictions, in addition to an easement the Long Island Power Authority has, it's been a futile effort to have the road cordoned off.

"Someone really has to look at the whole picture," she said. Cutting off the dirt road to trucks and all-terrain vehicles, but so that hikers and bicyclists could still access the trails, like Northwest Path, would make a huge difference, she said.

"Both towns needs to get together and come up with a solution," she said. "It's time for a park ranger."

Deborah Klughers, who is an East Hampton Town Trustee, also heads up the town's litter committee, said she recommends signs like “Do Not Litter” or “No Dumping” be posted, and having the area blocked off.

She also suggested that the town contact the Department of Environmental Concern to see if they could try and catch the litterbugs in action. She said she would put the item on the litter committee's agenda. It meets at Town Hall on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

What do you think should be done about the trash along the power lines and overall problem of dumping? Tell us in the comments below?

splashdown April 08, 2013 at 07:35 PM
You know what - set up webcam(s) - and then have it up and running on the town's web page for the world to see.
Frank Marion April 08, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Infra red game tracking cameras
ViralGrain April 08, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Keep jacking up the prices at the land fills and this will only get worse.
Jon Schoen April 08, 2013 at 09:17 PM
It really is a sad sight to see when I go back on the dirt part of Town Line Rd and the power lines. Just one correction to this story, the shot from the shot gun shells are steel. They outlawed lead bird shot over 25 years ago.
Jerry Can April 08, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Unfortunately, illegal dumping not a problem associated with just the power lines. Increasingly, as you drive along the back roads you invariably come across household garbage bags left by the side of the road and in the woods. The options for garbage disposal in the Town of Southampton are either you have a garbage service, the public dump, or some one else' s (private or government) garbage can or dumpster--which when full or unavailable results in some people using the woods. Unfortunately, a service does not make sense for everybody as the cost may be high for some and unjustifiable otherwise. The town dump requires purchasing the green bags ,of which there are now only 5 in a bundle instead of 7, and finding a store that sells them as they are not available at the dump. The dump also has to be open when you need to throw out your garbage. The dump alternative is efficient if you have garbage and recyclables accumulated. But if you generate little garbage and or the times are inconvenient you look for other alternatives. A solution could be to have more garbage dumpsters available throughout the town that could be coin operated and allow people to dump a limited amount of garbage. 50 cents for a 8 gallon size load? For example. Of course, this does not address the problem for the poor or cultural insensitivity to the eyesore of illegal dumping.
CUL8R April 09, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Catch someone dumping and make an example out of them and problem solved?
Bbambi April 09, 2013 at 11:34 AM
The town must close roads, invest in ranger(s), enforce, offer tipline and rewards high enough that dumpers turn each other in.
Doe, John April 09, 2013 at 12:41 PM
I suspect union rules prevent any municipal worker from bending down to pick up garbage. We'll have to do it ourselves.
NACL H2O April 09, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Sometimes vigilante justice is called for. Sift through the garbage to find the address of the offender...then dump the whole lot on their front yard!
Zachary Cohen April 09, 2013 at 01:17 PM
This is not a new problem. The Nature Preserve Committee documented it with photographs a couple of years ago and made a formal recommendation to the Town Board to add two video cams plus to ask policemen who are driving by to occasionally stop and survey the area (the unauthorized use is most acute in the late afternoon after the workday or school is over). Nothing came of the request. Blocking the access was tried but that only led to the creation of side-roads that cut through the woods. The one positive was that when Gene Garypie was the head of the sanitation department he, with occasional help from the highway department, would occasionally send a truck to the area to collect the garbage. There is no reason not to continue that occasional clean-up.
In Your Corner April 09, 2013 at 01:20 PM
Get the DEC and EPA involved in well as this offence does affect ground water and the wetlands. Offer a financial reward to a spotter with a video camera. The spotter gets the licence plate number and a video of the offender in action, then New York State, the Federal Government and local officials all impose a hefty financial penalty to the offender. A proportion of the penalty goes to the spotter. .
Walter Noller April 09, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Well, you "suspect" wrong. Town highway department is constantly out cleaning up the mess left by others. It's one of those miserable, thankless, someone's gotta do it jobs and it's an ongoing effort. But as long as someone else does it, who cares, be it Hwy. workers or volunteer groups or just someone who'd rather not see a mess. I'd suggest it be work provided by those who have to pay back to society for a legal infraction. Let it be someone who'd been caught littering, or has to pay a fine for say, running an illegal residence. Nothing influences one's desire to never wanting to "do it again" like miserable, nasty work. Beyond that, much as I detest cameras overseeing society, perhaps it's time to keep watch on these remote areas. It's not just an eyesore, it's a health hazard, promoting mosquito and vermin to seek out food and places to breed. I hope that helps in your misguided distain toward town employees and gives you the chance to remove your hair shirt. Droll you're not. BTW, don't hide behind an alias.
NACL H2O April 09, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I run the Greenbelt 2-3 times a week. Definitely not a new problem! The abandoned cars are of a 1950s vintage! But in general the population has become more educated about littering since the 1970s ("Give a hoot, don't pollute"). Unfortunately, as the frequent fresh dumpings prove, some idiots didn't get the message. A camera activated by movement (doesn't cost much) mounted on each of the LIPA towers would put a stop to the practice very quickly. One high-profile arrest, plus signs at the roads saying "no littering, monitored by cameras", would be a strong deterrent.
Arnold Timer April 09, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Well said Walter.
Arnold Timer April 09, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Or just call the police. Worked for me when someone was using my dumpster illegally. They took the mail from the bag and paid him a visit. My problem solved. No charges though in my case so he probably just started using someone else's dumpster...
ViralGrain April 09, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Well said.
Walter Noller April 09, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Again, I say use it in conjunction with fines imposed for legal infractions. While paying a fine has merit in some cases, it's often written off as a financial imposition or worse, merely the cost of doing business. Do something as miserable as having to clean up some else's mess and it stays with you.
Walter Noller April 09, 2013 at 01:59 PM
REALLY??!!! Do we really need vigilantism? That's what you're suggesting. Let authorities do their job. Take care of your own property and if you see something that's dangerous, turn it over to the proper authorities. While we may have a civic responsibility to do so, paying someone to turn in another person is one of the tenants of socialism and was used effectively by the Nazi party.. Again..Really?
Jerry Can April 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Keep it simple and just put out municipal dumpsters in various locations that people can have access to at all times. Its going to relieve a lot of the illegal littering and be more cost effective than policing and castigating offenders. Its not going to affect private industry, they could actually be contracted to do this, or people that use the the Town facilities. The people that dump illegally are not part of those garbage and recycling streams anyway. What you want to avoid is dumping anywhere.
bits barnes April 09, 2013 at 04:10 PM
that's a good idea. a municipal dumpster in front of the north sea dump would certainly be useful on the holidays. also, the north sea dump has become extremely expensive. if the price was lowered, more people would take furniture and large debris to the dump. in the old days, people would take some of the better pieces and reuse them. southampton does not favor that type of recycling. where are all of the environmentalists on this issue. you can't even get magazines or books at the dump anymore. everything ends up in a landfill or at the power lines.
Jerry Can April 09, 2013 at 04:29 PM
@Bits barnes. I'm talking about dumpsters all around the town not at the dump. Most people don't live close to a dump and many would not know where to find them. Especially seasonal residents. If you use the dump already, its not that much of an inconvenience working around the holiday schedules. 5-7 days a year? The cost at the dump goes up because the town's cost of dumping goes up. Unfortunately the old days are gone and there has to be a more proactive policy by the town to manage this. Its the cost of growth which requires addressing municipal responsibilities and not patting yourself on the back because you banned plastic shopping bags and therefore think you have solved your littering problems.
DrSique April 09, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Bill Graham April 09, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Put up THIS ARE UNDER VIDEO SURVEILLANCE signs everywhere. problem solved. Cost the town a few bucks at hardware store... Put up big PICS of cameras. :)
John Pine April 10, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Seems everywhere is turning into a dump. I see garbage along the sides of roads too. But I agree with putting game cameras up to catch these dumpers, they are doing this in New Jersey for much success. But I know it's hard to get the DEC to take anything seriously, it's quite frustrating. Wouldn't be surprised if the polluters had a hand in the DEC's lack of a response to the problem.
Dennis Loebs April 10, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Most of these ideas seem to have merit, and like other intractable problems, this one may also be best resolved by applying a combination of tactics. I agree with Dai Dayton that a comprehensive solution needs to include physically obstructing access to the powerline road. Right now it's simply too easy for any would-be dumper with a four-wheel drive vehicle to drive in, get out of sight, and dump away. In terms of return on investment, the barrier component would seem to be among the best starting points, especially if that cost is borne by others (see below). Recognizing that the path to installing barriers is complicated by the LIPA right-of-way, why shouldn't our elected officials be tasked with investigating the extent of LIPA's responsibilities with respect to maintaining the ROW? Can LIPA not be held accountable for an unlawful use of the ROW (even if the ROW itself is being used merely as the primary access to an illegal dumping ground)? Could East Hampton and Southampton Town leaders draft a letter to LIPA demanding action in the form of barriers (installed at LIPA's expense), or failing that, responsibility for the costs of regular cleanups to be performed by private or public sanitation services?


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