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Resident criticizes operation of Tuftonboro's Swap Shop


July 25, 2018
TUFTONBORO — Susan Taylor expressed frustration with the operation of the Swap Shop at Tuftonboro's transfer station on Monday, July 24 at the Board of Selectmen's meeting. She said she has come to search for treasures lately only to discover that the shop has been "swept clean."

"A lot of the stuff is decent. Only about 10 percent of the stuff is junk," she objected.

Taylor commented that a number of useful items come in, but also, a lot are picked up by residents. She also said she believed that there are people willing to volunteer to keep the place organized, and said signs are needed to let people know what is disallowed. She questioned what use a Swap Shop has if the items are taken away with a bulldozer every week.

Selectman Lloyd Wood countered that Swap Shops are becoming a thing of the past. He said it is an industrial site and safety is a concern, and said that he has seen at least seven conflicts and misbehavior on the part of residents during his visits to the site. Also, he added, items that should be thrown away sometimes find their way there. He cited the cost of removal of the overflow in the Swap Shop as $115 a ton.

Taylor said there is no clear signage explaining what can not be left there. Exasperated, Taylor said they might as well just not have a Swap Shop if it's going to be cleared out in such a manner.

Later in the meeting, Transfer Station Manager Clay Gallagher stated that no one has volunteered to oversee the organization of the shop, and his staff has to take the time to discard items that should not have been left there. When they've put up signage, it often blows away in the strong wind current at the facility.

A discussion ensued on the pros and cons of offering what he sees as a service to the residents. On one hand, items that are scavenged by treasure hunters do not have to be disposed of at cost to the transfer station. How much is picked up by residents is not known. On the other, staff has to spend time clearing away what is not taken away. He noted that there is a consignment shop in town where residents can dispose of their unwanted items.

The operation of the Swap Shop, a familiar bone of contention at the station, is apparently at an impasse.

Gallagher, following up on the request from the board at the last meeting to come up with a proposal for increasing fees for construction debris in light of the revenue shortfalls and what he described at the previous meeting as undercharging of contractors' loads, said he thinks "we need to change our view of specific trash" and do a "better evaluation of weight and items," rather than increasing fees at this time.

Reporting on Island Day construction debris pickup, he said 25 boats brought loads of refuse. Revenues came to $430. Removal and disposal expense was approximately $650.

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