Task force to focus on litter

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials want to clean up the streets.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses appointed a litter task force at a special meeting this week after discussing litter last week during its regular meeting.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the taskforce is in response to the growing amount of litter around the borough, especially along Candee Road and in the Naugatuck Industrial Park.

Hess said litter on Candee Road was recently picked up through a community service program, but the garbage quickly returned.

“We just did it two months ago and now we have all this litter back here again. It’s ridiculous,” Hess said.

Hess said the issue is worse in the industrial park because people dump large items there, such as mattresses, hot tubs and couches, which the borough has to clean up.

“I bring it up at public works all the time,” Burgess Rocky Vitale said. “You could furnish an apartment with all the stuff dumped at the industrial park.”

The borough has a litter ordinance on the books that was approved in 1973. Hess said the taskforce will look at ways to strengthen it and bring it up to date.

Under the ordinance, anyone found littering can be fined no more than $100 and would have to remove the litter.

Hess said the ordinance needs to be about more than just fines.

“We are going to see what can be done to educate the public and help the police be in a better position to enforce the ordinance,” Hess said.

Deputy Police Chief Joshua Bernegger said there is often not much police can do after litter has been dumped.

“[The litter] is generally not bags of trash to rip open and go through. When there is trash there we search any significant dumping or any type of identifying information and follow up with any leads,” Bernegger said.

Even if the department finds any evidence, Bernegger said, the state’s forensic science laboratory won’t perform any tests since littering is only an infraction.

“If somebody doesn’t leave their business card or a bill in the litter, there is not a lot for us to go on,” Bernegger said.

Bernegger said the best plan to catch people littering is already in motion.

In December, the board approved a $1.2 million lease purchase agreement to switch the streetlights in the borough to light-emitting diodes (LED) streetlights. As part of the project, the borough will mount cameras on some streetlights.

“The LED light project will help us out tremendously when that does get underway,” Bernegger said.

Hess said the cameras can be moved, so the borough can watch over any area it feels necessary.

Hess believes Candee Road is a target for litter because it is off of New Haven Road, which has many fast food restaurants, and cuts through a wooded area.

“The main reason is the perception that no one is watching, which will be changed when we put up our security cameras and signage,” Hess said.