Councilors seek to reimburse residents for collection services
By Carley Dangonacarley@thereminder.com
AGAWAM – Complaints pile up as condominium residents seek town collection of their trash.
A resolution to establish a reimbursement program for solid waste removal, sponsored by City Council Vice President Dennis Perry and Councilor Cecilia Calabrese, is currently being reviewed by the Agawam Law Department.
If approved, the proposal would to benefit taxpayers living in condominium communities that are classified as Residence A3.
“There is a substantial block of citizens in Agawam affected by this issue,” Councilor Cecilia Calabrese said. “We were elected to represent the entire population. It’s been really irresponsible for us to ignore this issue.”
Condominium residents spoke out during the Citizen’s Speak Time at a council meeting in June.
Corinne Wingard said, “I feel like a skunk at a garden party.”
Elaine Carlson said, “I’m sick and tired of being treated as a second-class citizen.”
Resident Steve Svonkin added, “Thirty-two communities in Massachusetts have reversed [similar] policies. If it’s good for one, it should be good for all.”
The proposal seeks to establish town-operated collection of recyclables on the private property of the six condominium complexes within the town. The associated fees for the pickup would be deposited into the General Operating Fund for the benefit of all.
The document states, “Whereas, individual condominium dwelling units are taxed at the same rate as all other residentially classified real property without the opportunity to receive commensurate public services; and whereas, it is fair and equitable for condominium owners to receive reimbursement of the costs of solid waste removal.”
According to Mayor Richard Cohen, this topic has been an issue since the 1970s when the first condominiums were built in Agawam.
He explained that although his office is researching options to resolve the situation, it is ultimately “a council issue.”
Tracy DeMaio, Environmental Program coordinator for the Department of Public Works explained that the town has a contract with Republic Services Inc. to service single-family homes, buildings with up to four housing units, public schools and municipal buildings.
“[Everyone else] is responsible for bidding out their own recycling contracts and finding the most cost effective means to do so,” she said.
Cohen noted that the town’s contract does not include the pickup of recycling on private properties such as condominium complexes.
Calabrese hand-delivered the resolution to the solicitor’s office on July 25 and stated she will wait until the end of this week before checking on its status. She hopes to schedule the item on the City Council agenda in time for its first meeting in September.
“I want to give the council the opportunity to debate and vote on the matter,” Calabrese added.