Montclair Council Begins New Term Talking Trash

Mayor Robert Jackson and the Montclair Township Council, fresh off their re-inauguration (minus Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville, who was away) turned their attention to new public garbage receptacles at their July 12 conference meeting.

The Montclair Township Council, minus Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville
The Montclair Township Council, minus Fourth Ward Councilor Renée Baskerville

Joe Nardello of the waste-removal firm Bigbelly,  who presented to the council on June 14 an explanation of his firm’s employment of large public trashcans with smart technology to reduce collection trips by monitoring disposal with pinpoint accuracy, proposed installing 28 strategically positioned receptacles in Montclair’s central business district, specifically in and around Bloomfield Avenue, Church Street, and South Park Street.  The receptacles would replace 28 regular trashcans, which are emptied seven days a week and two hours per day and hold just under 3,000 gallons between them.  (There are 70 trashcans overall in the designated area.)  Nardello explained that the total capacity of the 28 Bigbelly bins would be increased to 4,000 gallons.

“That’s enough stations to get successful numbers and see your data and see if this works,” Nardello said.

Craig Brandon, Montclair’s Supervisor of Solid Waste Services, said he requested 28 trashcans to get a good idea to see how it would work.  With these 28 cans, he said, the town wouldn’t have to go out seven days week to pick up because the small holes in the cans deter illegal dumping.  Councilor-at-Large Robert Russo thought it would be a good idea to place Bigbelly cans all over the area to see if there are major improvements.  Nardello explained that the township would be locked in for a five-year period with these 28 cans, but if the numbers showed a drop in collections and produced greater efficiency, the township could add more cans to Montclair Center.  Councilor Russo was sold on the idea, suggesting that Montclair should go forward; he was especially sold on the possibility of reduced trips resulting in a savings of fuel used by garbage trucks.  Acting Township Manager Tim Stafford said that Department of Community Services employees who would not be needed any longer for collections would be reassigned; the real savings would come not from employee attrition but a reduction of overtime for collection.

The council also considered getting local eateries involved.  Municipal law requires eateries where food is usually carried out to have trashcans outside their premises, but Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager noticed that some of the Bigbelly cans would be placed near such eateries where there are no cans.  It was suggested , if businesses that sell food wanted to participate in the service Bigbelly, they could pay for their share of the service,  otherwise, their responsibilities to provide their own cans and keep the clean would be strictly enforced.  Deputy Mayor/First Ward Councilor William Hurlock liked that idea, and Third Ward Councilor Sean Spiller opined that eateries would gladly pay for Bigbelly to avoid the trouble of keeping their own trashcans clean and free of illegal dumping, but Township Attorney Ira Karasick believed that a voluntary partnership with local eateries would work, because he said, “it’s an offer they can’t refuse.”

A request for proposal, though, would still have to go out for municipal trashcan collection.  Nardello told Mayor Jackson that he would get the numbers for a possible 40 extra cans and the savings over the current operation involved.

While going over the agenda for the July 26 meeting, Councilor-at-Large Rich McMahon asked about an ordinance that would ban trucks on Walnut Street between Grove Street and Walnut Crescent and he didn’t understand the reason for it.  Township Engineer Kim Craft said it was due to the Hackensack UMC/Mountainside redevelopment plan causing concern from “a particular resident” over the scope of the redevelopment and the fear that trucks would begin to use Grove Street to access the site via Walnut Street.  She said that the band would not affect the abilities of delivery truck drivers to make deliveries to the stores in the Grove/Walnut area. Councilor McMahon didn’t think it was necessary to ban trucks on that part of Walnut Street based on something that might happen, and he was skeptical; Mayor Jackson correctly guessed that Planning Board member Carmel Loughman was the “particular resident” in question.  Craft said that enforcement would largely be based on residents’ complaints, which she thought would involve construction vehicles.  “A Pepsi delivery truck is not the thing you’re going to be calling about,” she said.

The northeast corner of North Willow Street and Glenridge Avenue, where some residents are concerned that the "No Parking Here To Corner sign (center) could block motor-traffic visibility. Image courtesy of Google.
The northeast corner of North Willow Street and Glenridge Avenue, where some residents are concerned that the “No Parking Here To Corner sign (center) could block motor-traffic visibility. Image courtesy of Google.

One particular resident who had a grievance was North Willow Street resident Dana Morgan, who had a concern about the “No Parking Here to Corner” sign on the eastern side of that street just off its northeast corner with Glenridge Avenue.  He wanted it removed farther back, because the sign, despite its small size, blocks the view of traffic coming the other way and this provides a safety hazard as motorists go around the bend.  Craft said she met with Morgan before about the sign, and she said she didn’t see the safety need to eliminate the parking space(s) that moving the sign would involve.  She said that North Willow Street was wide enough at the bend for two-way traffic and that motorists should be be slow and cautious around it simply because there is a bend there. She said there was no record of incidents caused by the sign.  There is a petition to move the sign, and Craft it should be taken up by the Traffic, Parking and Advisory Committee (TPAC).  Councilor Spiller said that would be a good process for it to go through, and he admitted, as a North Willow Street resident himself, that the bend was tricky to navigate by car.

A closeup of the bend at North Willow Street off Glenridge Avenue. Image courtesy of Google.
A closeup of the bend at North Willow Street off Glenridge Avenue. Image courtesy of Google.

The council also unanimously passed a first-reading ordinance adopting the Hackensack UMC/Mountainside redevelopment plan, but Township Clerk Linda Wanat cautioned that the notice for the second-reading hearing might not be in the July 14 issue of the Montclair Times in time for the public to learn of it before the July 26 regular meeting, when it would theoretically be brought up; the task of forwarding adequate notice to the press had been relayed to her deputy, Juliette Lee.  Wanat said the notice could still be published in the Star-Ledger in time for July 26, and it may yet make the next Montclair Times issue; otherwise, it would be held until the council’s meeting on August 9. The council still passed it so a second reading and public hearing could still be scheduled for either future meeting.