By Caroline Haubenstricker
Southampton Town is launching a townwide litter cleanup program intended to remove discarded trash — including personal protective equipment like masks and gloves — from parks, beaches, and roadsides to beautify the community.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman hopes the initiative will be implemented within the next two weeks, he said.
“Part of [this cleanup] is because of personal observation and citizen complaints on social media,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “During the pandemic, which we are still in, it has been building up because people have concerns of getting the coronavirus and are in survival mode.”
On May 26, the Town Board approved an appropriation of $50,000 for the town litter cleanup and crew. The crew will consist of six employees who will work full time, 35 to 40 hours per week, for the next two months, picking up litter in Southampton.
“The board approved enough money to easily last a few months,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We will look where we are after two months and maybe decrease the number of workers.”
The town is providing both the tools and protective equipment for the cleanup crew.
According to a press release sent out by the town, crew members will earn $17 per hour for litter cleanup. Mr. Schneiderman hopes that this initiative will help provide employment to at least a few people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Those interested in applying to be a crew member should contact the town’s human resource department at 631.287.5715 or at southamptontownny.gov/160/Human-Resources.
“The only real requirement for a worker of the cleanup crew is to have a New York State driver’s license, because they will be provided vehicles to drive around Southampton,” Mr. Schneiderman said.
The supervisor said the cleanup crew will be under Public Safety and Emergency Management Administrator Ryan Murphy’s direction.
One of the crew members will be deemed a supervisor and be paid a little more than the workers. The other five will take directions from the supervisor, who will in turn take direction from Mr. Murphy.
After the six workers are selected, they will go through training. The training has not been decided on, yet. However, Mr. Schneiderman wants the workers to be safe and wear the proper equipment. The training will mostly be on the job.
The cleanup crew will pick up the litter by splitting up the entire town of Southampton and focus on areas east and west of the Shinnecock canal. Mr. Schneiderman said that some days all six crew members will be working in the same area and some days they will be split up into groups.
“We have to ask permission from some places [to pick up litter, including] villages and state highways,” Mr. Schneiderman said. Tom Neely, director of public transportation and traffic safety, is focused on making sure that the cleanup crew has permission to clean up in various areas.
Mr. Schneiderman said that he had come up with this idea in conjunction with the town comptroller, Leonard Marchese, who is responsible for financial and audit activities of the town, to work on the logistics and the branding of it. He has the hope that the town can be reimbursed as part of a COVID-19 related expense as he said the litter is a societal symptom of the pandemic.
All Southampton Town Board members — John Bouvier, Julie Lofstad, Rick Martel, and Tommy John Schiavoni — have worked together in the implementation of the initiative, the supervisor said.
The press release stated that the cleanup crew will be placed under the direction of the department of public safety and will coordinate with other departments including police, public works, parks and the community preservation fund.
“There is a lot of coordination that is going on … there are about 15 people involved, including the town public safety manager, who is in charge of this, the parks department coordinating to get plastic bags and tools to the crew, the fleet manager in charge of providing the vehicles, and the human resources director involved with hiring and recruitment the individuals, and there are people designing the logos for the trucks,” Mr. Schneiderman said.
The litter will be brought to one of the town’s four transfer stations to be weighed, in order to keep track of how much is collected, and then disposed of.
Citizens are able to report complaints and concerns using the Southampton Online Solutions (SOS) system available on the town’s website at www.southamptontownny.gov. There will be an area to report litter issues.