Residents of Pine Valley Mobile Home Park clean up trash on Monday afternoon.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Residents of Pine Valley Mobile Home Park have dealt with rapidly deteriorating roads, a malfunctioning septic system, and a temporary loss of water service because of allegedly unpaid electric bills by its owners over the last several years.
Now they're dealing with a garbage strewn entryway because of unprotected roll-offs that have been invaded regularly by wildlife.
The property off of Wells Road has two 8-cubic-yard capacity trash containers at the entrance to the park in which the residents throw their refuse. Typical household waste from frozen vegetable packaging to dog food containers to diapers. A great deal of which is now scattered over a large swath of real estate that spans either side of Dublin Road.
Residents say the problem has persisted every spring for years and the management and its on-site employee have failed to ameliorate the problem. The problem begins with the local bear population emerging from hibernation hungry and looking to feed in the quickest and most convenient way possible. They get into the containers easily as there is no protective fence or operable bear-proofing in use. The bears drag bags of trash to a nearby copse of trees where they are ripped open and sorted through. Once the bears get what they need and the coast is clear, smaller critters (fox, raccoons, squirrels, etc.) move in and further cannibalize the scraps which results in a wider spreading of refuse to nearby properties.
"This has been going on for years. Every spring it's a bear issue. I talked to them about the bears and told them we want fences put up," said Health Inspector and Board of Health member CJ Garner of KFF Asset Management Group, which owns and oversees the property. "They finally contacted [a local fence contractor] and put down a deposit on the job. I contacted the fence company, too, just to make sure that they actually did."
According to Garner, at one point management and the fence company were at odds over whether it could get done because of an overabundance of work had the company is tied up with the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail project. Garner said they eventually came to an agreement and, Monday morning, there was someone measuring and marking for the installation of a fence surrounding the roll-offs. The residents were told work would begin this week.
Rick Dodge, who contacted iBerkshires regarding the problem, said the problem goes beyond merely odor, and sanitation.
"There are kids down here that ride bicycles. Say they're riding by and there's a fox, a rat, or a raccoon, they don't know. They're not smart enough yet if they're little kids ... 'oh, a nice animal.' They get bitten, what happens then?" he said.
Garner said the town is looking into penalties should the situation persist.
"I've spoken with the [Board of Selectmen] about putting the plan in place to issue a fine for at least littering. This isn't fair to them, this doesn't even have anything to do with the park," he said pointing to a nearby property covered in trash that is not a part of Pine Valley. "I have two voicemails into [KFF] just this weekend that haven't been responded to. Let alone the phone calls last week when Rick sent me the pictures of this stuff."
Residents said they hope the installation of the fence will solve the problem but in the meantime they will be cleaning up the mess themselves. Dodge brought rakes and bags and gloves to the site to begin the process.
"Someone's got to start cleaning it up so we'll do what we can do," he said.
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Cheshire Selectmen Eye Salary Increases in FY21 Budget
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The fiscal 2021 budget preparation dominated at Tuesday night's Selectmen's meeting.
Aside from reviewing the Board of Health and Council on Aging operating budgets, the board discussed at length what some members see as stagnant salaries for many town positions.
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV recently undertook a salary study with input from the Massachusetts Municipal Association's Human Resources department. Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi feels Cheshire has fallen behind other similar communities in compensating it's employees.
"Based on feedback that we received at the town meeting last year, a concerted effort has been made by the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee towards improving the overall salary structure of our town. We have been undercompensating our employees, we do recognize that, and it's something we are looking to address," she said to the virtual attendees.