Letter to the Editor: Bring Back Bulky Waste Pick-Up in Hopewell Township

I have spent many afternoons this summer meeting residents of our township and asking them what issues they would like to have addressed by our local officials. Over and over again, they repeat that the loss of Bulky Waste Pickup is a problem they would like to have fixed.

Our problem with bulky waste pickup started last year when there was a fire in the Public Works garage which housed all of the Township’s trucks and other heavy equipment. I was shocked to learn that there were no working heat sensors installed in the main vehicle bay. The fire had eight hours to burn before it was detected and as a result, the Township lost >$3 Million dollars’ worth of equipment.  To date, insurance has only reimbursed us $690K for these lost vehicles. The cost of replacing the destroyed equipment is a burden that all taxpayers have to bear, but why have we also had to forgo a valuable service in the interim?  It’s time to bring back Bulky Waste Pick-up.  And not a watered-down alternative – some Committee members actually proposed that residents haul bulky waste to the Municipal Building.  Great for some, but not for our seniors or anyone lacking a pick-up truck or a strong back.

Local government has the opportunity to very directly affect the quality of life for the people it serves.  I believe that we need to have the bulky waste issue solved quickly, not studied nor debated over the coming months. I also believe that we need to better protect the dollars that have already been invested by our government.  The cost of a simple heat sensor is very small when compared to the cost of replacing the equipment (and lives) it protects.

I spoke at the Township Committee meeting on Monday night to bring this issue forward, and to support my fellow residents.  Our community deserves a re-newed Bulky Waste Pick-up program, not more excuses or delays.  Let’s make this a priority!

Kristin McLaughlin

Democratic Candidate for Hopewell Township Committee

6 Voorhees Way

Pennington, NJ 08534


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  1. Speaking only as a fellow resident and meaning no disrespect, while I appreciate the efforts of anyone willing to run for office, I’m a bit perplexed by this letter. Ms. McLaughlin indicates that she spent a lot of time talking to residents over the summer and that over and over, they asked for the return of the Bulky Waste program. I find that surprising because a very small percentage of our households actually used the program when we had it. While 2013 (pre-fire data) saw 600 pickups, those 600 pickups were really multiple pickups from a much smaller number of households that used the service. I can’t remember the exact number, but I think it was something like 100? 150? households. In our town of 6300 households, that means that only two? percent were even using the service. (And it was mostly the same households every year.) So it’s strange that so many people brought this issue up when speaking with Ms. McLaughlin (unless she coincidentally happened to speak with the 100 families that used the service). Ms. McLaughlin then says that “It’s time to bring back Bulky Waste Pick-up. And not a watered-down alternative…I believe that we need to have the bulky waste issue solved quickly, not studied nor debated over the coming months.” ????? Don’t study it? Just bring it back? Is Ms. McLaughlin suggesting that we finance a new half million dollar truck tomorrow to serve those 100 households? Even when we had the truck, the service was being very much subsidized by the taxpayers. Pickups cost $25 to the household, but with manhours, gas and tipping fees, each pickup cost $150 to the Township, so the net cost to the Township (taxpayers) for those 600 pickups from 100/150 households was around $75,000. But we shouldn’t study it? That does not seem like a responsible way to make decisions. It’s my understanding that the Township is looking at how surrounding towns handle their bulky waste and the associated costs. It is also devising a method for large numbers of its residents to give their input on issues like this, to give the Committee a better feel for how strongly the community feels about services/issues and their financial impacts to the Township/taxpayers. The Committee will add this input to its arsenal of information when making decisions. This sounds like a better idea to me than to just implement things with little rationale. Maybe the majority of residents WANT to subsidize the bulky waste pickup for the 2%. I don’t know. But hopefully, we’ll soon be able to find out. In the meantime, while the Township does not have the means to provide this service, maybe we can help our elderly neighbors by breaking down items if possible into smaller pieces that will fit in a garbage can, or helping them contact groups that will pick up items in good condition, or helping them contact a paid service to remove the items. And if the Township does choose to have residents bring bulky items to a central location, well, hey, a lot of people own pickup trucks in this town. 🙂

  2. Kim,
    In all due respect, I find your numbers debatable. When the bulky waste program was included as a public service from our outrageous tax bills, just about every 2nd to 3rd house put bulky waste out. It wasn’t until the twp demanded additional fees to pickup the bulky waste, that fewer and fewer residents decided to withdrawl from bulky waste collection. So this means, every resident still has their share of bulky waste, what are they doing with it? Throwing into regular garbage instead of upcycling? Perhaps dropping it in our Green Spaces, rivers, lakes, etc. What public services does Hopewell twp offer residents for their taxes? Most of us have, well water, septic tanks, have to pay for garbage pickup, etc. So many other communities are getting alot more bang for their buck then Hopewell Twp. Furthermore, if it cost the Twp so much money to provide bulky waste, and you withdrew the program, why hasn’t our taxes gone down to reflect it??
    In addition, I would like to add that most of those “damaged Trucks” from the fire, were salvagable except for perhaps 2 or 3, but Hopewell Twp made a decent buck selling them off to eventually be exported to Mexico. Again, that was the residents money. If you drive around Hopewell Twp, you will notice more and more properties up for sale then ever before. Have you wondered why so many residents are leaving this Twp? Why is the enrollment at it’s lowest in years at the twp schools?
    The status of saying I’m from Hopewell twp with pride, is long gone unfortunately. There is alot of negative pokitics, and greedy politians in this twp.

  3. So you’re saying that when the Twp started charging $25 per pickup, the residents as a whole thought that $25 was too much and stopped using the service? I guess we’d have to find the data from previous years on that, if it’s still around. My guess is that you don’t see a reduction in your tax bill because $75K in savings by the Township is not much when the School Board is spending $70 million a year (ever increasing) of our tax money, and the County is taking twice as much as the township takes. Again, maybe the citizens want Bulky Waste pickup returned. I don’t know. Very few citizens ever attend the regular Township meetings, unless a group comes out for a specific cause. And even fewer attend the series of budget meetings every year where every line item is discussed. This is why I like the idea of being able to reach a large portion of residents to get their thoughts on all these things. I’m guessing the same is the case with the School Board meetings. How many residents attend and question their $70 million in expenditures? Anyone? (Other than the upcoming candidates running for School Board, who are instructed by their campaign managers to start attending meetings and speaking at them, just like Township Committee candidates are. Not that any of them (maybe one or two exceptions) had ever attended a meeting in the past.) Regarding the disposal of the damaged trucks, I don’t know anything about that, but did you come to the meetings to protest and explain to the Committee that the trucks were salvageable? Doesn’t the insurance company make that call? (I’m really not familiar at all with the process.)

    You ask if I notice that people have to leave the Twp because they can’t afford it anymore. Of course I have. But if the people won’t get involved, and everything is left unchecked, to the few, ………..

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