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Policy change in Meredith allows picking

November 17, 2010
MEREDITH — After several discussions and much urging by residents, picking will be allowed at the transfer station.

The practice had been prohibited due to liability concerns. Any visitor to the transfer station who wanted an item in the metal pile would have to contact an attendant to retrieve that item for them.

Residents approached the Board of Selectmen with grievances and recommendations for the station, including bringing back the practice. Many residents said picking is a tradition and an economical and environmental practice. Residents told stories of items they found in the metal pile for which they fund a useful purpose.

On Monday, Town manager Phil Warren told the Board of Selectmen a compromise had been reached on the issue. He spoke with representatives from the station and the Public Works Department as well as residents and picking advocates Stephen Hoedecker and Frank Marino about the feasibility of allowing the practice. He also spoke to the Town Administrator of Brewster, Mass., a town Marino previously mentioned as having a picking policy in place limiting liability.

Warren said the new policy will be that station visitors are allowed to pick items from the pile within their reach and no one can climb on the pile. Additionally there will be no picking for commercial purposes.

Warren said signage will be put by the pile and cameras will monitor the area.

Residents will also sign a waiver of liability when they receive their new transfer station tickets next spring. Warren said having the waivers available now would create confusion in who signed the waiver when.

"We've come to a point where we need to be and it's going to require some attention," Warren said.

Warren said he did ask about the issue with Local Government Center's "Lawyer of the Day" service. While the question will likely be answered in around two weeks, Warren said the answer will likely be that towns should limit their liability.

Officials are also working to take more enforcement responsibilities out of the hands of employees and establish more of a chain of command.

"I think we've come to, shall we say, a better solution than we had," said Selectman Peter Brothers.

Brothers said he still had concerns about liability, though signage would be an important part of that process and he wanted to see acknowledgement of the risks and policies from the residents.

Martin Lord Osman
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