Highway Superintendent Pete Harris has had enough of the garbage.
At roughly 10 locations around town Harris called "hotspots," assumed second homeowners or vacationers have been dropping their household refuse at least since he took office 10 years ago, Harris recalled.
The free trash drop-off often results in overflowing garbage at beaches and road ends, leaving employees of the town's beleaguered highway and public works departments to serve as de facto trash men four days a week.
On Tuesday, Harris appealed to the Town Board, suggesting that removing some of the barrels would stop the supply of free trash pick-up, therefore in time reducing demand.
However the board remains undecided what to do next.
"The board hasn't agreed to remove any barrels," said Supervisor Scott Russell in an interview following Tuesday morning's work session. "I have doubts that removing barrels would solve the problem. That hasn't been our experience in the past."
Harris recalled on Tuesday that was his experience at at least one popular hotspot, at the end of Nassau Point Road in Cutchogue. After removing the barrel recently, town employees returned to find household garbage stuffed in a storm drain at the end of the road.
"As much as I'd love to take that one away, I'm afraid that people would end up using the drain as a garbage pail," he said.
However, he said, it has been effective in some locations, as his department had permanently removed between 10 to 15 receptacles around town since he assumed office in 2001, he said.
Harris said he assumes second homeowners and vacationers are to blame since vacation season is when the offenses generally occur. He said he's even put on gloves and sifted through trash to find documentation to track the offenders, though names are often removed or shredded.
"Before the season starts, and once the season is over, we don't have a problem," he said.
On Tuesday, the board suggested one idea Harris said he was open to trying: the use of cameras to tape illegal dumpers.
Russell also said new Police Chief Martin Flatley was planning on increasing details of public beaches during off-hours.
Harris said roughly 150-200 receptacles dot Southold Town from Orient to Laurel – excluding Greenport Village – which the highway and public works departments are responsible for emptying.
The town code states that, "public receptacles shall not be used for the deposit of accumulated household garbage." Violations carry $1,000 - $5,000 fine, 40 hours community service, or up to 15 days of jail time for a first offense.