Taking out the trash

Illegal dumping can sully area's image, create work for town


Glenmont resident George Bercharlie doesn't like it, he says his neighbors don't like it and officials in the Town of Bethlehem aren't crazy about it either. Then again, who really likes garbage?

Illegal dumping, while described by town officials as an isolated problem, nevertheless impacts the town and its residents by visually affecting neighborhoods and creating extra work for highway crews. For Bercharlie, at issue is a wide shoulder area off of Route 144 near his home on Old River Road that has several times over become the home of tires, trash and recently, a deep line of apparent building materials like broken cement and brick.

Just down the road on National Grid land is another dumping site where Bercharlie and his neighbors like to take hikes and walk their dogs. There are dozens of tires, broken glass and shingles strewn about.

This is our back yard somebody's turning into a landfill, Bercharlie said. "I'm just sick of looking at it."

The shoulder is a place where truckers and motorists often pull off to eat or talk on the phone, he continued, and as such the effects of littering are a constant, but with the larger items locals can't simply clean it up. The refuse even stopped his son's school bus from using the shoulder as a turnaround, forcing a longer detour.

So Bercharlie contacted the town, and Highway Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph said that on Saturday, Nov. 14, highway workers cleaned the shoulder up and hauled off seven large dump trucks full of material. But removing the debris probably won't solve the problem, he said.

"When we clean it up we just make space for them to dump more," Sagendorph said.

Illegal dumping is a problem, he said, especially in the more rural areas of town. This particular location has been cleaned up before, he continued.

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