Many mourn demise of reuse table at Northampton transfer station

  •  The Locust Street Transfer Station on Tuesday. Bera Dunau—Bera Dunau

  • Gatekeeper Paul Sniadach works Tuesday at the Locust Street Transfer Station in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/Bera Dunau

Staff Writer
Published: 10/2/2018 11:39:17 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Gary Sienkiewicz still has a picture of his daughter watching his wife unwrap a candle, a candle that she picked up for her mother at the Locust Street Transfer Station reuse table.

“She was probably 4 or 5, I’m guessing,” Sienkiewicz said.

Sienkiewicz isn’t the only person who thinks fondly of the reuse table — a place where people could take and leave items for reuse, and now a memory since it was discontinued earlier this year.

“People ask all the time (about the table),” Paul Sniadach, a gatekeeper working at the Locust Street Transfer Station, said on Tuesday.

He said he gets questions about it a few times every week.

Sienkiewicz is hoping that the table will be reinstated, an opinion he shared in a letter published in Tuesday’s Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“I hate to throw things away,” said Sienkiewicz, on why he wrote the letter. “There’s good stuff that gets in the landfill.”

It was not hard to find people at the transfer station on Tuesday who agreed with Sienkiewicz’s opinion.

One of the people who called for the return of the table was John Lind.

“I second that,” said Richard Hamilton, as he was getting in his car to drive away. “It should be brought back.”

Hamilton said he hadn’t noticed that the table was gone, but that he had utilized it in the past.

“I think that’s a shame,” said Caitlin McKinnell, on the loss of the table.

She said she has both taken from and donated items to the reuse table.

“(I) hope they bring it back,” said McKinnell.

Among the reasons for shutting down the table, Northampton Department of Public Works Director Donna LaScaleia noted the existence of the ReCenter Swap Shop at the Glendale road transfer station, and the desire to focus efforts there.

“The city of Northampton has a reuse center,” said LaScaleia.”It has been in operation for several years.”

She also noted the waste that was left on the reuse table.

“You’re defeating the purpose of reuse,” she said.

Sniadach said the reason the table was discontinued was because people were leaving too much trash on it.

“It was basically the 25 percent that was being left here (that) was trash,” he said.

As examples, he gave board games that are half-complete, chipped mugs and a scratched up Teflon frying pan.

“At the end of the day, we’d have to throw it away,” he said.

Asked about the trash issue, Lind sympathized.

“There should be a sign that says, ‘Only things that you know somebody’s going to reuse,’” Lind said.

Sniadach also pointed to the ReCenter.

“The guys at the ReCenter will go through the stuff faster,” he said. “We didn’t have anybody here.”

He said that the ReCenter is open Saturdays, and Sienkiewicz said that items can be dropped off there Wednesdays as well. LaScaliea said, however, that the best bet for someone wishing to utilize the ReCenter would be on Saturdays.

The ReCenter’s official hours are 8 to 11:30 a.m. April 7 through Oct. 27. The city also has links to other organizations that accept reused items on its website at

On bringing items up to Glendale Road, McKinnell said that she has a whole basement full of donatable items, but she never makes it up there.

“Glendale is inconvenient,” she said.

Sienkiewicz is also not a fan of the Glendale Road solution.

“Most people go to Locust Street,” he said, also noting that it’s only open two days a week.

Not everyone objected to the change, however,.

Caolan O’Loughlin said that it made sense to concentrate the reuse operation at the Glendale Road facility.

“Here was very loose,” he said. “Glendale Road is the way forward.”

He said that he’d always felt that the table at Locust Street was a bonus, but that the reuse operation is more focused and organized on Glendale Road.

Sienkiewicz said doing away with the table fits a pattern he’s seen in other areas of people complaining and the thing being complained about being done away with in its entirety.

He said that at one time the Book Shed was set to be shuttered at Locust Street. However, he managed to convince the DPW to keep the Book Shed open by agreeing to spearhead a group of volunteers to keep the space tidy.

“It’s possible that we could do something like that,” said Sienkiewicz, when asked if such a proposal in regards to the reuse table had been brought up.

He also said that the unusable item issue could be solved mainly by having employees keep an eye on what was being put on the table.

“It’s such a minor issue,” he said.

He also said that people could possibly donate blue bags, or the cost of blue bags, to defray the cost of the cleanup.

Sniadach said that people have been generally understanding when he explains why the table is not there anymore.

“Yeah, but they still voice their opinion,” said Sniadach, who said that he informs them there’s nothing he can do about it. “As a community, they have to do something about it.”

LaScaleia said that the department really wants to encourage people to use the ReCenter. That being said, LaScaleia did note that it takes all comments under advisement.

“We listen to everything,” she said.”We hear everybody.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at


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