New rules to allow picking at dump will take effect this month

New rules to allow scavenging of recyclables again at the town Recycling Center will go into effect on Monday, June 20, if the Town Board adopts them on Friday as expected.

Supervisor James Dougherty on Tuesday, at the board’s work session, pushed for the proposed rules to be added to the agenda of the board’s regular meeting that begins June 10 at 4:30 p.m.

Developed over the past few months by a committee that worked with the Recycling Center’s Brian Sherman and Superintendent of Highways Mark Ketcham, whose department runs the Recycling Center, the rules will require scavengers, or “pickers” as Islanders call them, to register, sign a liability waiver, acknowledge receipt of a rules brochure, wear a town-issued orange vest when picking as well as shoes and gloves, and check in at the weigh station each time they come to pick.

Most scavenging at the center has been banned since March 1, after a police officer in his off-hours took away a truck. The incident prompted an investigation of police and highway department operations at the dump, Police Chief James Read said at the time. Highway Superintendent Ketcham, who also serves as the town’s public work commissioner, imposed the ban.

Mr. Ketcham on Tuesday praised Mr. Sherman and Highway Department secretary Teresa Montant for working on the new rules and a new brochure listing Recycling Center rules during their off-hours. “Brian and Teresa really deserve a big thank you,” he said.

The ban drew critics to the Town Boar’s next meeting, at which Councilwoman Chris Lewis explained and several lawsuits filed by pickers against the town, as well as the truck incident, had prompted a call to the town insurance company. “They were pretty horrified to find out that [picking] had been going on for a long time.”

“So we are all being punished,” said critic Jean Lawless, “because somebody sued the town, somebody took a car from the dump, and because the insurance company is frowning upon them. She also read a statement from former supervisor Al Kilb Jr., who was unable to attend: “The Recycling Center is a natural resource to the people of Shelter Island — construction workers, florists, artists, baymen, just folks — it’s a cultural and material asset,” he wrote.

The new procedures will include a list of 12 rules.

The first requires pickers to fill out a registration form at the weigh station and provide proof that he or she is at least 16. Town residency will not be required to allow summer renters to scavenge.

The registration form requires name, address, birth date, and emergency contact information.

The second rule requires pickers to sign a “release and waiver of liability, assumption of risk and indemnity agreement.” According to the agreement form, the picker acknowledges that scavenging involves “risks would could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, disability, death …”

The picker must agree not to sue the town for anything that happens while he or she is picking, and also agrees to abide by the rules and regulations.

The third rule requires pickers to be issued a registration and a safety vest, for which there would be a $2 charge if it is lost.

Rule 4 requires pickers to read and retain a copy of a new brochure that has been prepared that lists the basic rules for the Recycling Center; rule 5 requires pickers to wear shoes and gloves and comply with the rules; rule 6 requires pickers to check-in at the weight station each time they come to the dump to pick and to “promptly notify the scale house staff if they are injured while picking.”

Rule 7 establishes that failure to comply “with these procedures shall be deemed an infraction. The first infraction of any of these procedures shall result in a verbal warning, confirmed in a note to the picker at his or her local address. In the instance of a second infraction within six months of the first and, in the discretion of the commissioner of public works, a written notice will be sent of suspension of picking privileges for six months. Repeated infractions can result in permanent picking revocation of privileges in the discretion of the Commissioner of Public Works.

Rule 8 says that a picker whose privileges have been suspended may appeal in writing to the Town Board; rule 9 prohibits taking vehicles or trailers that have been left at the dump; rule 10 bars any picking while recycling bins are being compacted or loaded.

Rule 11 will prohibit scavenging for resale and Rule 12 will require all children to be supervised.

Mr. Sherman disclosed at Tuesday’s work session that there had been two accidents at the dump, one involving two motor vehicles that had collided and the other an elderly woman who fell in the parking lot at the edge of the blacktop. He said the mishaps had not been related to picking.

Supervisor Dougherty pushed to adopt the rules Friday and impose them as early as Saturday, but Mr. Sherman said he still had to make some changes to ease congestion and to smooth traffic flow through the Recycling Center grounds. He intends to move the “goody pile,” which includes intact items in working order that people have left for others to claim, to a spot where parked cars will not block the flow of traffic. To do that, he plans to relocate the front fence. Also, traffic flow will be divided so it is one-way through the area.