SANBORNTON — The decision of the Board of Selectmen last month to curtail "dump picking" at the transfer station has roiled a number of residents, some of whom intend to petition the board to lift the ban.
Charles Smith, the town administrator, said yesterday that Primex, the New Hampshire Public Risk Management Exchange, which underwrites the town's property and liability insurance, undertook a risk assessment last month. He said that Primex recommended against allowing residents to sift through the materials, especially the metals, brought to the transfer station for recycling. "It was an issue of safety and liability," Smith said. "The board was looking out for the safety of the public. If someone was injured, the town could be held liable."
"This decision was not taken lightly," said Brian Bordeau, director of Public Works. "The board knew they would be ruffling people's feathers."
Among those troubled by the Selectboard's decision is Peggy Graham, who believes that the ritual by which one person's trash becomes another person's treasure is an essential thread in the social fabric of the town. "We call it our store," she said. "Its an exchanges of clothes, toys, kitchenware and hardware. We had a wonderful library," she continued, referring to discarded books, "especially for the summer people." Furthermore, Graham emphasized that "people get and talk to each other as they look through things and I think that is good thing. Sometimes I see people I haven't seen for months."
Graham said that Rachel Paige is mounting a petition in an effort to persuade the selectmen to reconsider and reverse their decision. Paige could not be reached for comment.
The growing controversy echoes a similar confrontation that arose from a proposal to forbid dump picking in Meredith five years ago. There the ban was eased by allowing residents to pick from the metal pile, but not to clamber over or rummage through it. Nor would residents be permitted to take metal for sale as scrap. Finally, those wishing to pick through the metal pile would be required to sign a disclaimer releasing the town of all liability in the event of injury.
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