Taking out the trash

"We usually find it more on the dead end country roads, where it's kind of secluded. It's unusual to find it like this on a state highway," Sagendorph said.

As for private lands, it's ultimately the landowner's responsibility to clean up refuse, but the town will work with landowners if practicable.

"There's no sense cleaning it up until there's a gate with a lock in place," said Sagendorph of the dumping in Glenmont. "Once the gate's up we can work with National Grid to get it cleaned up."

Doing cleanup work can take workers away from other tasks and uses up town resources, though, and the cost of illegal dumping is ultimately assumed by the taxpayer. The nature of the crime means catching perpetrators can be difficult, as well.

"It depends on what the property is," said Lieutenant Thomas Heffernan of the Bethlehem Police Department. "If it's bags of garbage, there's a good chance that they left an envelope or part of a bill or something If it's just miscellaneous stuff with no names on it, that can be difficult."

Heffernan said that the police department doesn't receive a lot of reports of illegal dumping, but if they do the investigation will center around finding some sort of identification for the person doing the dumping, whether it's a piece of trash or vehicle identification. Police may also step up patrols in hopes of deterring the activity or catching a perpetrator.

Town code prohibits illegal dumping. If it's done on private land, trespassing charges could also come into play.

"Generally, we do get maybe a couple complaints throughout the year, its not something we deal with that often," Heffernan said.

Sagendorph said the cost of recycling and disposing of garbage, including construction materials, drives illegal dumping. In Bethlehem, higher tipping fees went into effect on Monday, Nov. 16, for the disposal of construction materials. The town has to close its Rupert Road landfill by the end of the month and will transport refuse to another site, and the fees are reflecting that cost by increasing to $120 per ton from $60.

"People are finding these places as alternatives," Sagendorph said.

Bercharlie said that he would be on the lookout for any more instances of illegal dumping, and hopes others will do the same.

"It's not fair anyone gets stuck paying for it but the person who threw it there," he said.""

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