Friday, March 3, 2006
Saturday morning at the Transfer Station
It is 9 o'clock on Saturday morning at the Carlisle Transfer Station on Lowell Street. I've come to interview Chris Sireen and James Young, the two workers from the Department of Public Works (DPW) who are here on Saturdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the Transfer Station is open and not so busy, another DPW staff member takes over. I park at the back of the trash container sheds and behind the construction trash container and wait for an opportunity to interview each of these men in the warmth of my pre-heated car on this cold weekend morning.
Chris Sireen, who lives in Billerica, has been working for the DPW for the past three years. He and James Young, who comes from Pepperell and has been on the job for the past seven months, have a Tuesday-through-Saturday work week. Except for Saturdays at the Transfer Station, they spend the rest of their time on town maintenance projects, which include roadwork, patching potholes, cemetery maintenance, burials, lawn maintenance, tree removal, and plowing snow off roads, sidewalks and footpaths.
On Saturdays both men keep things running smoothly from the time the Transfer Station opens at 8 a.m. until closing time at 5 p.m. Both agree that the busiest time of the day on a Saturday is late afternoon, between 3 and 5 p.m. Throughout the day, they keep their eyes on the recycling containers and walk around to make sure the right items get put in the proper places. "The parking can be like a maze out there with cars sometimes three or four deep in front of the Swap Shed," said Young. "If people are going to spend time there, they should park somewhere else. And they shouldn't park in front of the recycling containers if they plan on going into the Swap Shed," he continues.
Often around 3 p.m. a trash container fills up and is transported to the corner next to the Swap Shed and then replaced by an empty container. Usually only one trash container needs to be switched on a Saturday, while the cardboard container runs for several weeks. The workers' office is located in the middle shed, behind the cardboard container. This is where the men can go to get warm while still able to survey the whole operation. Each takes a half-hour break for lunch in the DPW office behind the Transfer Station.
The problem of too many vehicles parked in front of the Swap Shed is a particular nuisance when a full trash container needs to be removed. There is also concern for cars speeding in off Lowell Street, through the gate and into an area where children and others are walking about. Sireen also worries about people being hit by broken glass when standing too close to the glass container as bottles are being thrown inside.
"And what about dump stickers?" I ask. "We check, and occasionally I ask people to leave," replies Sireen. "Many people don't want to put stickers on their car. I ask them to at least put it on a piece of cardboard and place it on the dashboard. That would help." Young thinks people in Carlisle, where dump stickers cost $15, have a good deal. "Where I live in Pepperell a dump sticker costs $37. We have to pay $1 for a bag of trash and $22 to take an old refrigerator to the dump. You have a very good deal in Carlisle," says Young. Other Carlisleans who frequent the Transfer Station and stop at the Swap Shed voice annoyance at out-of-towners without stickers. One individual found it surprising that a town like Carlisle which needs to raise money lets people use the Transfer Station without paying for a sticker.
Do workers get to know the Carlisle residents who come to the Transfer Station, I ask? "Most residents in town are friendly and outgoing," answers Sireen. "The ones who hang out at the Swap Shed, the 20 to 30 regulars, they get to know me by name." "There are a few who strike up a conversation and talk a bit," adds Young, "but most just want to do their business and get back home as fast as they can."
One wonders if having the Transfer Station workers wear vests or jackets that identify them as part of the operation might make it easier for townspeople to know where to go for help.
One of those Swap Shed regulars had nothing but praise for the Transfer Station workers: "They are great guys — Chris, Jim, Brendan, Shane and all the others!"
Note: Remember to buy your Transfer Station permit for 2006. They are available at the Police Station and at $15 per year ($10 for a second car per year); they're a huge bargain.
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito