By Becky Harvey
The Oxford selectmen’s meeting kicked off Tuesday night, June 5, with an impassioned plea by Good Samaritan and Oxford citizen Richard A. Vacca of Burbank St. A long-time resident of the town, he has spent hundreds of hours over the past four years in selfless service, cleaning up what others have left behind. Vacca was not just concerned with simple littering, but with the blatant illegal dumping of bulk items likes tires, televisions, appliances, furniture and building materials. The problem has become rampant in the town of Oxford, though many are unaware, as it is often done at night and in secluded, unpatrolled areas.
Vacca has spent his own money to remove over 1000 tires from the Greenbriar Area alone. His recent clean-up efforts have been concentrated on Greenbriar and all its surrounding trails and the Caughlin Road area. His efforts, though great, have only made a dent in the growing problem. He feels that his work is a way of “un-victimizing” the town of this growing crime.
Mr. Vacca implored the selectmen to aid him in his mission to clean up the town. He asked that the DPW be made available to pick up piles of debris which he hauls out of areas but has trouble disposing of. The selectmen were quite responsive to the request, but all were very vocal about warning Vacca not to take his efforts onto private property.
The selectmen stated that they appreciated his work, but reiterated that if he were to get hurt or cause damage on privately owned property, he would be in danger of getting sued. The major concern with private property was with Vacca’s efforts on land owned by National Grid. Despite the fact that Vacca had been in contact with them, selectmen remained concerned and warned against further work on property that was not town owned. Town Manager, Joseph Zeniski, suggested that Vacca contact the Board of Health with reports of issues on private property, as the owners may be responsible for clean-up and installing preventative measures in order to comply with town regulations.
In his address, Vacca requested that the town erect either a large, locking gate in the areas of greatest concern, or at the very least, place large boulders that would prevent people from driving trucks full of garbage down the secluded pathways and trails. He even suggested building a visitor’s center to increase foot traffic, therefore making it harder for people to sneak in. The town has already set up cameras in the areas of concern, but the offenders are tricky enough to move around them. Selectman John Saad, mentioned that the town only has five police officers per shift and that adds to the inability to catch illegal dumpers while in action.
Of particular interest to selectman Jennie Caissie was the fact that Vacca mentioned that police were aware of one Oxford resident whose household trash has been discovered dumped in two areas near Greenbriar in less than a year’s time. Though the police felt they had insufficient evidence to charge the owner of the garbage (bags that included identifiable information such as household mail and prescription bottles with the alleged offender’s name) after the first offense, they have assured Vacca that they would launch a full investigation. Selectman Dennis LaMarche stated, “That seems to blow my mind” in reference to the fact that the woman in question had not been arrested.
Caissie mentioned that she had requested information from the Oxford police with regards to citations for littering and whether or not people are, in fact, being issued citations when they are seen littering. She stated that her request has gone unanswered. She also said that the aforementioned offender ought to have a criminal complaint levied against her, as the criteria for doing so was very low. Having trash with identification in it, in Caissie’s belief, would give enough grounds to file charges successfully.
Vacco’s worries of secretive, illegal dumping morphed into a conversation about the issue of underage drinking and drug use, which also leads to littering in wooded and abandoned areas around town. He mentioned that five barrels full of drug paraphernalia and alcohol containers were rounded up during an eight-hour clean-up of the area between Oxford High School and Carbuncle Pond. He alleged that he has also witnessed “a fifty year old man” supplying three fourteen year old girls and a seventeen year old boy with alcohol and drinking with them near Lowe’s Pond.
There are, according to Vacco, a number of areas in town where teens party and drink, aided by older townspeople who purchase the alcohol for them. LeMarche stated, “That really fries me,” regarding adults providing underage children with alcoholic beverages. Some have even set up tents and build fires to drink by. Though police try to stay on top of it, it seems to be a growing problem.
The selectmen all acknowledged the problem the town is having with both illegal dumping and underaged drinking. They all thanked Vacco for his efforts and said they would work on continuing to educate the townspeople on the issues.
Moving on, the selectmen addressed the scheduling of the October special town meeting. It has been set for Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 7pm in the New High School Auditorium. The warrant will be open as of June 6, 2012 and will close at August 28th, 2012 at 4:30pm.
Community Volunteer Days, sponsored by the Home Depot and the Oxford Community Center, will be Saturday July 28th and 29th. This is a change from the previously announced June date. Drop-ins will be welcome at the community center, but prior sign-up is preferred. Most of the work will involve painting (with paint supplied by Home Depot.) Please wear appropriate attire if you elect to attend!
Recognition was given to both Civil Defense Police Officer Gary L. Belvery Sr. and Deputy Fire Chief Cleighton B. Tourtellotte, who will each be leaving their posts. The board voted to send their thanks on behalf of the town. Each was recognized for his service to the town of Oxford.
The meeting concluded with the announcement that the much praised Carbuncle Summer Program will be starting later this month. The official kick-off date is yet to be determined, but it will be announced soon. As soon as some minor repairs are made to the bathhouse, which are in progress, the program can start. The selectmen announced that interested townsfolk can sign their children up for the program by calling Stacy Barr, the Community Program Director at the community center at 508-987-6002.
- Wednesday, 13 June 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News