Angry Bourne residents have taken to social media to voice their outrage over people using the Town Forest instead of the town landfill as a dump.
Photos posted online show large items—including a couch—that were discarded in the woods off Valley Bars Extension near Monks Park.
The Facebook post included several photos of items discarded in the Town Forest. One photo showed several large bags of trash. Another photo featured a queen-size box spring that, given the growth of plants around it, had been there for quite some time. The third photo was of a sofa that had been abandoned, along with two more full trash bags.
The outrage expressed by residents in response to the post ran the gamut of blame. Many took to task the people responsible for trashing the woods with their trash.
Some folks recommended putting up a surveillance camera to catch people in the act. Some blamed town government and the fees people are expected to pay to dispose of trash properly. One responder wrote that with the costs to access beaches, license a dog, register a boat and a motor vehicle, “we are all going broke being good citizens.”
“I’m not defending them,” the person added. “Just trying to point out that stickers, costs and regulations are killing us.”
Someone who lives in the vicinity of Monks Park pointed out people have been discarding trash in the area for a very long time. The cost of a dump sticker, the person said, is irrelevant.
“The dump sticker could be a dollar and people would still dump their crap,” the responder wrote.
Yet another responder pointed out that residents can use the landfill for free. As for nonresidents, the responder said, “Bourne has the cheapest rates around.”
In fact, Integrated Solid Waste Management general manager Daniel T. Barrett said, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents do not have to buy a sticker if they want to dispose large items such as a box spring or a couch at the landfill. All that is necessary is proof of residency.
“Bourne residents are welcome to use the facility,” he said.
Mr. Barrett said mattresses are the only item the landfill is not accepting at this time, due to the coronavirus. He said the hope is to resume accepting those soon.
Bourne Health Agent Terri A. Guarino said her office was not aware of the illegal dumping situation. Ms. Guarino said the health department does not have a Facebook page, nor were they notified by anyone in the public. She said she contacted the Bourne Department of Public Works and was assured that a crew would be going to the Town Forest “to look into this.”
Interim Department of Public Works Director Matthew Quinn said crews will come out and remove items from the Town Forest if someone calls and brings it to the department’s attention. Mr. Quinn said perpetrators could be people from out of town, just as easily as they could be town residents.
Mr. Quinn confirmed the cost for out-of-towners to use the Bourne landfill is not exorbitant. He noted he brings large items to Bourne because it is far more expensive to dispose of them in Falmouth, where he lives.
He added anyone found to be responsible can be charged with illegal dumping by the Bourne Police Department.
Bourne Police Lieutenant John R. Stowe Jr. said if someone is found to be responsible, that person can be charged under the town’s littering bylaw.
According to the violations section of the town bylaws, “Except where otherwise provided, any person violating any of the provisions of these bylaws shall be subject to a penalty of not less than $50 nor more than $300 for each offense. Each day that the offense continues shall be considered a separate offense.”
Lt. Stowe admitted that finding the person responsible for dumping a couch or a mattress would be difficult. However, bags of trash could contain mail with the person’s name and address. He added no one has brought the situation in the Town Forest to his attention.
The lieutenant added any responsible party can also be charged for littering under a section of Massachusetts state law.
Conservation agent Samuel O. Haines said he was not aware of the specific problem recently raised by residents at Facebook. He added, “Unfortunately, this is an issue the Town deals with quite a bit.”
Mr. Haines said, in addition to Bourne bylaws and state law, any illegal dumping might also be enforceable under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. He concurred dumping on public lands is a trespass/littering violation enforceable by the police.
Some folks questioned the damage that could be done to the environment, noting it would take “a long time” for something like a couch or a box spring to biodegrade. Mr. Haines added such items typically attract pests such as rats and do not provide a home for welcome wildlife.
“There are better ways to preserve animal habitat than dumping human trash in the woods. One of the main reasons to have public open lands is to provide proper wildlife habitat,” he said.