Cheshire council votes to reinstate bulky waste pickup

Bulky waste pickup is returning to Cheshire. The Town Council reinstated the service, which has not been offered since 2008, by voting March 11 to appropriate $294,000 for the project and waive the bidding process by awarding the contract to local trash hauler AJ Waste Systems LLC.

The measure passed in an 8-1 vote. Republicans Timothy P. Slocum, David Schrumm, Sylvia Nichols, Rob Oris, and Tom Ruocco joined with Democrats Patti-Flynn Harris, Peter Talbot, and Liz Linehan to support the measure, while Republican James M. Sima voted against it.

Sima said he strongly backs the return of bulky waste collection, but opposed the item because he doesn’t support bid waivers. Ruocco said he was bothered by the fact that “there was no open bidding process,” even though he ultimately assented to the resolution.

“I know nobody likes it,” Town Manager Michael A. Milone said of the restricted bidding process, before arguing that one-on-one negotiations were critical to the town obtaining the deal it got.

The contract includes collection at all condominiums in town and the right to outfit the trash hauler’s tracks with town GPS systems in order to better track the operation, as well as the cost savings involved. Being a local hauler, AJ Waste also knows the pickup routes in town and will spend more time on collection and less in transit, Milone said.

“Using AJ also makes us feel safer,” due to familiarity with the company, Linehan said.

When the town originally sent the project out to bid, it received only one proposal, for $450,000. AJ Waste did not submit a proposal until solicited.

Oris said councilors — Republicans and Democrats alike — heard constituents “loud and clear” on the community’s collective desire to see the service return. He said he, Nichols and Linehan, all members of the solid waste committee, have worked diligently to bring the service back to Cheshire while maintaining fiscal responsibility and refraining from raising taxes.

“I’m excited about it and I think it makes sense for the community,” he said of the brokered deal.

Sima also stressed the need to “keep reminding people what is bulky waste,” and what items are eligible for collection, noting that mattresses and box springs are not part of the approved list.

“There is absolutely nowhere to get rid of them in the state of Connecticut,” Milone said in explanation of their non-inclusion, adding that AJ Waste would have to break down these items at its own facility, which would make it cost-prohibitive.

Milone said the town will notify residents of the renewed availability of bulky waste pickup via its website and new Facebook page, as well as cable access and the Code Red emergency alert system.

A public hearing to discuss the appropriation for the program has been scheduled for tonight, March 20, at Town Hall. The service is set to start up again in April.

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