To the editor:
It began as a whisper, a bit of conversational information that passed my way sometime in the month of May.
Because it had a tinge of gossip about it, the item didn't make it into my haphazard journal. Something of a major internal community activity was in the works. I disregarded the whisper.
Still, the subject kept coming into conversation, and each time it was tinged with more intensity. When finally the item was pinned down, I tried to understand the need for the town transfer station — commonly or lovingly known as The Dump — to be opened on Sundays.
When genuine interest took hold, I found appropriate people were hesitant to discuss this planned activity. There was some obvious discussion taking place, but there was hesitation to amplify on the subject.
Yes, it was to be a trial effort. Yes, there was considerable concern about the need to look into labor contracts to determine staffing, the availability of needed experienced people for coverage, because the equipment doesn't run by itself; the concern relative to continuing Monday closure and opening for service on Thursdays.
Obviously, The Dump was to be opened on Sunday.
But why? I might have asked some official directly, but, in the past, that method never provided much useful information. I began looking for substance. I found that in the minutes, dated Wednesday, April 25, of a meeting of our DPW Commissioners.
The depth of the speculation on the subject of Sunday dump openings made clear the subject had been kicking around for awhile. Apparently, surveys about what other towns did had been conducted. Impacts on personnel and union contracts were considered.
In other words, this action had been cooking for a time. Still, the only real gem extracted from these minutes came from then-Selectman Sandy Jacques stating that "a survey would be helpful to see how residents feel about Sunday hours; ask them if they would come on Sunday."
If this suggestion was given any merit, I have yet to find it. The next I found was a discussion topic for the Selectmen's agenda for Tuesday, June 26, "Opening Transfer Station on Sunday Mornings." If anything came of the discussion, it must be in minutes of meetings yet to be approved and made public.
Saturday, May 7, I learned The Dump would be open on Sunday, July 15. It was passing input. I sought verification this past Monday, July 9, and was told contract discussions were still in progress. This morning, I was concisely advised, the dump would be opened this Sunday — irrespective of contracts, community needs, requirements or anything else.
The information was given in the sense that the decision had come from "on high."
Obviously, a policy decision has been made affecting working people, opening a question of Sunday quality of life for the town, potentially adding to traffic congestion on upper Main Street, and number of possibilities, and all done without public input or public solicitation.
Why the subject of townspeople having to hold onto household garbage from Saturday until Tuesday hasn't come up before this, who the hell knows? The decision, however, has been made.
It follows the common thread of Rockport official decision-making. "If it ain't broke, break it and turn the subject into a hog wallow. Aggravate a bunch of people, and then, tell the residents it was/is a seasonal action, and if it didn't work, it will be fixed."
The military has an acronym for this kind of thought process. It is designated "FUBAR."
This is a family newspaper; look it up.