Sick of the trash strewn up and down Fairmount Avenue, Leo Guarente decided to take matters into his own hands.
Guarente, owner of the Junk Depot at 1539 Broadway, assembled a team and spent several hours last Thursday removing debris from Fairmount Avenue.
While the town has seen an overall reduction in illegal dumping over the last few years, Fairmount Avenue has remained a problem area.
Fairmount Avenue residents keep an eye out for suspicious activity but it’s difficult to catch the culprits, who often come in under the cover of darkness to dispose of items in the woods.
Guarente shared how one of his neighbors woke up to find about 15 yards worth of trash piled on the property of his newly constructed home.
“It’s like the town dump,” said Guarente, who lives on Fairmount Avenue. “When people see so much trash dumped around here they say ‘I can get away with it too, it’s no big deal.’”
Guarente recently approached Town Manager Andrew Bisignani to inquire about lending a hand to clean up Fairmount Avenue.
Bisignani was happy to accommodate the request and on April 14 Junk Depot sent over two 15-yard dumpsters and six employees to pitch in. GJ Towing also donated a Bobcat to the effort.
The Junk Depot workers hit the illegal dumping hotspots and loaded more than two tons of trash into the dumpsters, Guarente reported. The haul included several discarded couches, toilet seats, a snowman kit and countless other items.
Junk Depot disposed of the garbage and left Fairmount Avenue near the Lynn line looking cleaner than it has in years — at no charge to the town.
Fire Chief James Blanchard, Police Chief Domenic DiMella, state Rep. Donald Wong and Bisignani all swung by Fairmount Avenue Thursday to watch the cleanup effort.
“I’m thrilled someone is picking up this trash for the town, it shows a lot of community spirit and makes the area more attractive for people who want to buy homes,” Blanchard said.
Bisignani told the Advertiser the illegal dumping on Fairmount Avenue is frustrating given the fact police routinely patrol the area and a Neighborhood Watch group was formed to deter crime.
Despite the efforts illegal dumping has been a “chronic problem” on Fairmount Avenue, Bisignani said.
Unfortunately the town doesn’t have the resources to remove the excess trash that piles up on a regular basis, Bisignani said.
Individuals caught leaving trash on public or private property can face serious consequences. Bisignani said the town has prosecuted people in the past, noting one person recently settled to pay a $500 fine.
Why people feel they must resort to illegal dumping baffles Bisignani. He pointed out the town runs a recycling drop-off site at the Department of Public Works, 515 Main St., on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
By-and-large Bisignani believes that Fairmount Avenue is the exception, not the rule. He estimated illegal dumping has decreased town-wide 75 percent in recent years, which he attributed in part to the drop-off site and people becoming more vigilant about recycling.
“Fairmount Avenue is a border street, I don’t think it’s Saugus residents doing (the dumping),” Bisignani said.
Bisignani emphasized it’s a tremendous help for a concerned citizen such as Guarente to come forward with the offer he made.
“It’s really a nice gesture on his part, it shows a commitment to the well being of the community,” Bisignani said. “I’m very thankful he committed his own resources to do this for the town.”
For his part, Guarente said he was simply tired of all the trash he spotted in his neck of the woods. Neighbors certainly appreciated the effort, with several coming up to the Junk Depot team to offer thanks.
“I just wanted to do something to give back to the community,” Guarente said, adding that he hopes to make the spring cleanup an annual tradition.
Bisignani said Guarente and his Junk Depot volunteers have already gone above and beyond. If the town had called in a company the trash removal would have cost a few thousand dollars, he contended.
“I wish we had more people in this town like Leo,” Bisignani remarked.