One Amazing Transfer Station Story. And Another That’s Hard To Believe.

Last month hundreds of Westporters gathered in the rain, at the entrance to the Westport Weston Family YMCA. They were cheered on a very ill 6-year-old boy, whose fervent wish was to swim with his family, have a pizza party, and pet a bearded dragon.

Phoebe Nunziato was there. Her sign said simply: “You’re Amazing.”

Phoebe Nunziato

The other day, Phoebe’s father John included that cardboard sign among the recycling items he brought to the transfer station. On a whim he handed it to Gilberto, who manages the recycling stations at the Sherwood Island Connector site.

John took his photo.

Gilberto, with the recycled sign.

Gilberto kept holding the sign, as cars drove in. Drivers smiled.

This week John returned to the transfer station, with more items. He saw the sign proudly leaning against Gilberto’s booth.

Gilberto told John he puts the sign in the booth each night, and takes it out again the next morning.

It’s a bit tattered now. But, Gilberto says, it creates happiness. And the message is powerful.

“In this time of great stress, the smallest effort can bring joy — even at the transfer station,” John says.


But speaking of stress: That’s what David Meth feels when he stops by with his recyclables.

As he wrote earlier this month, he used to pick up discarded bicycles from the “metal” section. He’d take them to Cycle Dynamics, where owner Charlie Gander and his crew fixed and tuned them, then provided the like-new bikes to children through 3 Bridgeport charities.

Recently however, David has been prohibited from doing that.

Nearly 2 dozen readers responded to his story. They described transfer stations in other towns — including Darien and Redding — with designated spots for items that can be taken and fixed. The idea was met with great enthusiasm.

However, David says, there’s now a new sign:

“I understand the need for safety,” David says.

“But the suggestion in the last post was to set aside a small area for donations of items that can be reused. Why is that a problem?

“This is a small gesture of humanity for children and people who would repair and use the bicycles, as well as other things. Yet there seems no room at the transfer station for such generosity.

“And it’s not just one sign. There are two. We need a sign that says  ‘Donations.'”

Wouldn’t that be “Amazing”?

21 responses to “One Amazing Transfer Station Story. And Another That’s Hard To Believe.

  1. It’s ridiculous that “picking” is not allowed at our transfer station. What better way to “recycle” items not wanted by one but wanted by another. It is not prohibited for liability reasons but for $ reason…the town sells scrap metal by the ton and, I suspect, is reluctant to lesson tonnage by folks taking what they need. After all, one’s allowed to walk the Longshore roads (liability); swim the guarded beaches(liability); play on the town tennis courts(liability). Etc, Etc. So the liability issue is either spurious, or totally unnecessary.

  2. Barbara Mathias

    I think this is ridiculous! A friend of mine also has a transfer station with an almost thrift shop in it…she has picked up some great things over the years, and what about those kids? It’s truly a shame, that’s all.

  3. It’s about time this policy changed. Every transfer station in every town where I’ve ever lived has had a “re-purposing” section. Time to share the wealth, Westport

  4. Michael Calise

    Typical Westport sign almost as good as the Don’t Do This Don’t Do That signs at the beach

  5. Adam Vengrow

    Phoebe is the best!!!!! love her!!!!!

  6. What’s interesting is it’s not an “official” town sign…looks to me like someone has an agenda.

    • That’s conspiricy theory type bullshit, Mark… you actually think someone who works at the transfer station went to the expense of having that sigh made…or perhaps a transfer station employee has the means to make that sign at home…utter, conspiritorial nonsense, Sir.

  7. Gloria Gouveia

    Interesting that the real danger —propane tanks get last mention.

    • Gloria, Gloria, Propane tanks are less dangerous than the gas tanks on the cars and trucks that drop them off. Neither is a significant threat….most transfer stations accept them and have an are for their drop off

  8. Rather than moaning about why the transfer station doesn’t allow picking through the items there, why not create a once per month picking set up. Perhaps where the farmers market had been held or somewhere like that. Those with usable items can bring them there and then for an hour or two each month folks can come, look, take, etc. the remainder can be junked.

  9. From the town charter:
    Sec. 46-7. – Regulations—Use of disposal areas and facilities.
    ((c)Salvaging or scavenging. No salvaging or scavenging shall be allowed at any disposal area or facility without the permission of the Director of Public Works.

    So the decision is with the Director of Public Works. Or the RTM who can change the regulations.

  10. Mercedes Escala

    The value of re purposing and re using things is very clear and not having that option in the Transfer station seems to be a missed opportunity. Hoping this gets the right traction and we see change, shortly. Thanks for bringing this important topic to the table.

  11. Won’t Goodwill accept bikes? Or take them yourselves to Cycle Dynamics.

  12. It is environmentally–and morally–irresponsible to forbid recycling. It’s a waste.

    But this is typical of the entire culture of CT agencies. DOH, DEEP, etc., have lost track of who it is they’re supposed to be serving–the people of CT.
    CT’s agencies have become authoritarian bullies, locked into their own arcane regulatory practices. I’d vote for ANY candidate who promises to clean them up–and out.

    For shame. They should be brought up before Greta Thunberg.

  13. Leslie Riback

    So how do we change this? Do we write letters to DPW?

  14. Why is the town not responding directly, rather than referring to the rules and regulations? This is not difficult to solve. It requires thinking of the people in the town, not the rule or regulation. Perhaps a touch of human concern for sharing.

  15. Mark Mathias

    If we want to truly embrace the motto of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” it makes perfect sense to allow people to pick up items others have discarded and would end up in a landfill. Perhaps a disclaimer of liability and a restriction of underage people (under 18) not being allowed for safety reasons would mitigate risks to the Town while supporting – and indeed encouraging – a more sustainable world. Many environmental issues are difficult. This one is not.