The Batavia City Council is leaning toward the “let’s try it and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll end it” approach to an offer by Casella Waste Systems of New York to empty the trash receptacles at city parks and downtown at no charge.
Batavian Jeff Pero, Casella’s Batavia Division general manager, previously had reached out to City Manager Rachael Tabelski with the proposal that allows Casella crews to service the parks on a daily basis and downtown on a weekly basis in return for letting the company paint the receptacles (dark blue) and place a sign on them, stating “Serviced by Casella Waste.”
At tonight’s Conference Meeting at City Hall, the board agreed to move a resolution to enter into a contract with Casella to its June 14 Business Meeting for a formal vote. After a brief discussion on the matter, the consensus was to take the business up on its offer and if things don’t proceed as expected, it would use a clause in the pact to terminate it.
Council Member John Canale said he had three concerns with the plan.
“If we allow them to do this and we enter into this agreement … does that mean we’re not asking the citizens then to carry in and carry out? Does this cancel that out?” he asked.
Tabelski said the "carry in, carry out" policy will apply to use of the pavilions at the parks.
“So, when you use a pavilion on the weekends, we’re not doing rentals and we’re not approving overtime of DPW (Department of Public Works) staff or park staff,” she said. “However, we still have garbage cans in the parks around the playground areas and high use areas – which is what they would service.”
Canale that brought up the fact that Casella wants to label the trash cans with the “Serviced by Casella Waste” sign.
“I don’t have a big problem with that, I just don’t want to set a precedent that where other organizations may want to volunteer their services and put up some type of advertisement in the park as well … I don’t want our parks to become a billboard,” he said.
His final issue was what happens if things don’t go as planned.
“If we enter into this agreement and find out that it’s not what we thought it was, do we have a clause in there that we can cancel that agreement at any time?” he asked.
Tabelski said the contract could be cancelled without cause with a 60-day notice and immediately if either party defaulted in any manner.
Council members Rose Mary Christian and Patti Pacino shared that they have received calls from several residents who are against the idea due to poor service from Pero’s former business, Trash Away.
Council Member Paul Viele informed them that Casella is a separate company and that Pero works for the Rutland, Vt.-based enterprise.
“And I think it’s a great idea that they they’re picking it up for free. Thank you,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, we’ll figure something out.”
Canale agreed to not judge the new company on the past, stating if a problem does arise, Council will address it.
Christian said that she is a Casella customer and said “they’re very reliable.”
Casella’s offer will mirror what is currently being done by DPW staff at the parks and downtown.
Following the meeting, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said nothing has been finalized at this point.
“The process is still ongoing and there’s still now a two-week period of time for the public to weigh in,” he said. “It appears that the public has weighed in so far – and talking about the former company and the former concerns they had with the former company. This is not the same thing, It’s a different company now.”
He said that the impression he got from Council’s comments is that the new company should be given a chance.
“It’s not the same company that people are upset with. However, there still is time for the public to weigh in and if they have a concern, contact your Council member. We won’t be voting on it officially until next meeting.”
In other action, Council moved two other resolutions to the Business Meeting next month:
- Using $69,700 from the appropriated parking lot reserve fund to pave the Center Street lot ($50,000), Lions Park lot ($12,500) and Canale lot west of 240 Ellicott St. ($7,200).
“For the record, that (the Canale lot) has nothing to do with me. It’s the old Canale’s bar,” Canale said, drawing a laugh.
When asked if COVID-19 relief funds could be used for this project, Tabelski said it likely wouldn’t happen for this one – “We don’t have all the rules and regulations,” she noted – but said the might be able to appropriate some of that money for future paving projects.
Williams Park is on the city’s paving scheduled for 2022-23.
- Appointing five people to the City Audit Advisory Board through the end of the year. They are citizens Nicholas Harris, Marc Staley and Paul Battaglia, and Council members Bialkowski and Jankowski.
CALLING ALL PARADE PARTICIPANTS
Bialkowski issued a call for veterans groups and others to participate in next Monday’s Memorial Day Parade, which will start at 9:45 a.m. at the Eastown Plaza.
“We’ve sent out a lot of invitations but the RSVPs are very poor so far this year,” he said. “I’ve only got about a dozen back so far.”
He added that the Batavia High School band will be in the parade, with marchers including law enforcement and fire personnel. He said he believes there will be some pipers and is hoping for Mighty St. Joe’s Drum & Bugle Corps to take part as well.
“We have vehicles lined up for veterans who want to ride,” he said.
Bialkowski can be reached at (585) 409-3624 or at [email protected].
Previously: City Council to consider Casella Waste System's offer to pick up trash from parks, downtown business district