CLINTON — Residents questioned Town Manager Earla Haggerty during Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting on a proposed plan to enact a recycling exchange at the town’s transfer station.

Mark Hachey, brother of former transfer station director Mike Hachey, said that a proposed exchange store seemed to violate a policy against loitering at the dump that Haggerty implemented last month.

The exchange store, which was briefly mentioned by Haggerty at a meeting on Sept. 9, would involve renovating a building at the transfer station into a “gift shop” where residents could bring their unwanted items and exchange them with the items that are available in the store.

Clinton Town Manager Earla Haggerty, listens and takes notes during a selectmen’s meeting July 1 at the Clinton Town Hall. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

“A ton of towns now have gift shops at the transfer stations,” Haggerty said on Sept. 9. “You bring something and you take something …”

But at Tuesday evening’s meeting, Mark Hachey and a couple of other residents criticized the idea.

“You (Earla) made a big point about how it’s not safe to loiter at the dump,” Hachey said. “How is it going to be safe to have all those people going up to the recycling exchange? You made the point about it being dangerous. Is it safe to be up there? You’re sending a lot of mixed signals …”

Haggerty responded to Hachey by stating that the recycling exchange store wouldn’t classify as loitering because the business would be related to the purpose of the facility, unlike the signing of petitions.

“The difference is if you’re there to dispose of something, you’re there for the purpose of the facility,” Haggerty said. “We don’t have social activities up there. … If you go there to drop your trash and you want to go to the swap shop, that’s not loitering.”

Haggerty and the board emphasized that the idea of the exchange is in its infancy and asked the crowd not to develop preconceived notions before the town is able to go through with the project.

The debate over loitering at the transfer station began when last month, Mike Hachey and his wife went to the facility to collect signatures for a petition to get him reinstated as the director of the dump after he was fired in June. When the two were told they weren’t allowed to collect signatures at the facility, they voiced their outrage to Haggerty at a meeting on Aug. 13.

“When Mike and I went up there, we were told we had to leave and that we couldn’t collect signatures at the dump,” Mrs. Hachey said.

Haggerty explained that the Hacheys were turned away from the facility because of a new policy against loitering at the dump after she assessed safety risks.

“I’m a risk manager for this town. I work with Maine Municipal Association, (and) they from time to time put inspectors on this property. I consult with them, I take their advice, I’m supposed to help the town avoid risk,” Haggerty said. “And when you mix pedestrians with the kind of traffic we have up there, that’s a risk. The board appointed me as director, and my policy is going to be no loitering, no soliciting. I don’t care if it’s signatures for anything or if you want to sell Tupperware up there, all of that presents risk to the town. I’m not going to allow it as long as the board says I’m the director. Get them (signatures) anywhere you want, but not on town property when it presents a risk.”

Hachey, who is the current chairman of the planning board, was listed as a discussion item on the meeting agenda. In a phone call on Tuesday, he said he was unaware that he was an item on the agenda. At the meeting, Haggerty said that she’d reached out to Hachey and got no response.

Hachey was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. The board decided to postpone the discussion until the next meeting on Oct. 8.

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, residents criticized the disposal of the transfer station’s tire changer.

According to one unidentified resident, the machine was disposed of without being put out to the public for bid.

“I don’t think it’s right to just sell something without letting the townspeople bid on it,” the resident said.

According to Haggerty, the town has a public bid process but only for items that are worth more than $2,000. At the authorization of the board, Haggerty disposed of the tire changer because the tool was below the value needed for public bid.

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