By Peter Sloggatt
Walking on Wall Street could get dicey in the weeks ahead with recent changes to how and when trash is picked up.
The Town of Huntington pulled the plug on a garbage collection program under which restaurants in a core area of Huntington village had access to dumpsters to dispose of their trash each night. Two dumpsters located on Clinton Avenue between Main and Gerard Streets were removed April 1, and restaurants are now being told to put their trash out curbside.
Restaurant owners had paid to participate in the program but according to town officials it operated at a deficit.
“It was intended to supplement curbside collection,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinaccci said. “Each of the properties already paid the town refuse tax,” and then made additional payments to maintain the dumpsters. The town paid a private contractor $36,000 a year to place two dumpsters and maintain four-times-a-week pickup, Lupinacci said.
When it began in Feb. 2013, the 12 restaurants that had keys paid from $300 to $360 a year, with restaurants of 50 seats or more paying the higher fee.
The fees were increased to $500 to $540 a year in 2017, but the program still operated at a deficit, the supervisor said.
“The total paid [by restaurants] was $5,600 which left the town on the hook for $30,000,” Lupinacci said.
Huntington’s environmental waste management director John Clark met with the board of the Huntington Village Business Improvement District (BID) in late January to give a heads-up. BID president Jack Palladino, whose restaurant Christophers was a participant, said he couldn’t generate enough interest among restaurant owners to keep the program going.
As a result, restaurants will have to hold trash generated after closing time and put it out for curbside pickup at the end of the next business day. The town changed commercial collection pick up hours to get the trash off the street earlier; trash pick up will start at 4:15 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m.
Palladino noted restaurants generate more trash than retail businesses, and the piles of garbage bags and bins are a turn off to restaurant-goers navigating the streets and in some cases, seated outdoors on the same sidewalk space.
“Some of the participating restaurants they created their own problem when they expanded to outdoor dining,” Lupinacci said. And while only participating restaurants had keys, he said the enclosed dumpster areas became dumping spots, and the participants themselves failed to keep the areas clean and neat.
The BID president said he hoped the town would look into changes that take into account the changing face of the village’s downtown.
“Garbage pickup is the same as it has been for 30 years. But it’s not a retail environment anymore,” Palladino said.
On the plus side, he added, “At least we’ll pick up four additional parking spaces where the dumpsters were.”