Column: What a Dump

By Dan FitzPatrick

No, I am not trying to make any reference to the current condition of a number of our larger urban centers. Politics will have no intentional role in this column; in fact, the topic is something about which I believe all citizens of Greenwich, regardless of political party or any other preference, agree:  we have a terrific town dump!

I’ve just returned from a mid-week trip to the Holly Hill Resource Recovery Facility (a/k/a town dump).  Like all of my previous trips there, it was very satisfying.  There is something incredibly cathartic about getting rid of all the cardboard boxes that seem to reproduce like rabbits in our house (thank you Amazon, Rue La La, Gilt, etc.).  Tossing them into the giant recycling receptacles is like “playing hoops” for me.  I practice for “nothin’ but net.”

A trip to the dump has become a weekly weekend ritual for me, and, it appears, for much of the Town.  Saturday mornings before noon is a great time to see Greenwich in all-out small-town mode. 

I am particularly fond of the recycling area, just past the entrance gate and a turn to the right before the weighing scales.  Neighbors and friends greet each other and chat at the rail above the recycling containers as they toss their physical cares into the yawning maw of the metal dumpsters.  Many also take advantage of the opportunity to contribute clothing and other items at the immediately adjacent Goodwill receiving site (another Greenwich Goodwill donation site is located at 1212 East Putnam Avenue in Riverside).  And savvy local politicians have been known to hang out there around election time (watch for it, it will happen).

One of the more delightfully Norman Rockwell-esque touches at our town dump is the presence of the “Book Swap” at the recycling site.  Officially known as the Greenwich Volunteer Book Swap, it is a grassroots, volunteer-operated book swap center which accepts donations of unwanted but serviceable books and provides them free of charge to Greenwich residents.  I have to admit to being a net depositor, but I’ve watched with pleasure as children and families check out the selections, often sitting on an upturned crate to peruse a new find.  The Book Swap recycles an average of over 40 tons of books per year, saving the Town and taxpayers over $3,000 in avoided disposal costs.

Elsewhere in the dump you can find sites to drop off grass clippings, lawn and garden refuse, Christmas Trees, construction debris, metal items, old electronics, batteries, etc. – all waiting to be recycled.  I find the metal dump riveting (sorry for the bad pun) – the jumbled collection of cast-off items can sometimes look like an artist’s commentary on the state of modern life.  It’s absolutely fascinating and could make great material for another column (or maybe even an entire book).

Now, this is a legitimate newspaper, and I realize I need to remain fair and balanced in my reporting.  So, since I don’t want to get letters complaining that I am whitewashing or sugarcoating reality, I have to admit that there is one site at the dump that is, well, odiferous.  It is known as the “Transfer Station,” and that is where the trash goes.  It’s as close to a necessary evil as you will find at the dump, but to the Town’s credit, it is impressively efficient.  Unlike at the dump’s other sites, most visitors come and go pretty quickly; there is no chatting or hanging around.  In fact, it’s pretty quiet in that regard.  It gives special meaning to the phrase “dump [and] run.”

In an earlier column I wrote (Greenwich is Great, 7/7/17), I extolled the many virtues of our Town.  Add this one to the list. And ignore all the nattering nabobs of negativism who try to diminish us – they’re just talkin’ trash.