East Lyme looks to curb litter with high-tech garbage cans
East Lyme ― Officials are pitching a plan to help clean up Main Street using money from a 5-cent tax on “nip” liquor bottles.
Their $13,147 solution comes in the form of two solar powered, cloud-connected trash compactors to be placed in the area of the now-shuttered Niantic Cinemas and The Black Sheep restaurant. Taxpayers will have the chance to vote on the purchase at a Town Meeting on Wednesday.
First Selectman Kevin Seery said the area was targeted with seasonal crowds in mind.
“Garbage is always a huge problem on Main Street in the summer,” he said.
Public Works director Joe Bragaw said there are currently 10 garbage cans and no recycling bins on the roughly tenth-of-a-mile stretch from the Niantic Green to the railroad crossing next to Methodist Street.
The high-tech receptacles can hold 150 gallons of trash and 50 gallons of recycling, according to product specifications from Massachusetts-based Bigbelly Inc. The units are GPS- and app-enabled, too.
“The compaction unit is solar powered so they don’t require any outside electricity and with the smart technology, town staff will be emailed when the units are close to being full to allow for timely emptying,” Bragaw said.
Two double units, a five-year warranty and five-year software program come to $11,800, according to the purchase quote. The rest of the cost comes from shipping and handling and a hundred dollars’ worth of liner bags.
Seery and Bragaw said the hope is to add more of the receptacles throughout town if they work out as planned, and as funding allows.
The town has received $26,230 in revenue since the nip program was rolled out in 2021, according to data from Three Tiers for Connecticut. The nonprofit group behind the new tax represents major wine and spirits wholesalers, suppliers and retailers.
The five-cent surcharge is placed on the sale of each 50-milliliter bottle when it is purchased. Every April and October, municipalities receive five cents for each nip bottle sold within their borders during the preceding six months.
The law specifies funds can only be used on waste management expenses. Some towns have used the funding to hire recycling coordinators and to partner with local non-profit organizations on litter cleanups. Other eligible expenses include installing storm drain filters to block solid waste or buying a street sweeper to get rid of debris.
“The town of East Lyme already uses tree filters to help with storm water pollution and recently purchased a new street sweeper, so we were looking to move forward with this initiative to help clean up the downtown area,” Bragaw said.
Other Town Meeting items
Voters will also be asked to approve two capital expenditures for the school system. One is $84,084 for the replacement of a hot water heater at East Lyme Middle School, where facilities director Christian Lund said a rupture on Nov. 10 forced the removal of the 20-year-old tank sooner than thought. He said the new tank has been partially plumbed and he is awaiting parts for the burner.
The district is also seeking approval to spend $53,191 for a 2022 F-350 Super Cab 4WD pickup truck with a lift gate and snow plow attachment. The vehicle will replace a 2006 Chevrolet truck that was owned by the Parks and Recreation department before it was transferred to the school district in 2019. Lund said a mechanic recently said the truck is no longer fit for plowing or towing and should not be used on the highway.
Lund said he’s been working with a rental company to make sure the district will have access to a plow truck if needed until a new truck is purchased.
Both purchases will be made with funds in an account made up of fees paid by the LEARN Regional Educational Service Center for the rental of space at Lillie B. Haynes School. There’s currently $154,229 in the account.
The town meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at East Lyme Town Hall. A regular Board of Selectmen meeting will follow.
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