Heaps of trash, tires and deer carcasses litter the sides of Brunell Road in Altona, a problem Supervisor Larry Ross said is documented as early as the '80s.
A lonely stretch of pot-holed road has become a garbage-filled forest, and the town board is looking to catch the trash-tossers with a surveillance system.
An uninhabited length of Brunell Road, between Miner Farm Road and the Military Turnpike, is strewn with all manner of garbage. Old luggage and broken VHS tapes swim in pools of snowmelt. A soggy mattress rots next to a stark white deer skeleton. Plastic trash bags are broken on the roadside, spilling junk into the roadside brush.
Town Councilman Joey Snide said the most dumping seems to happen on the weekends, especially early Saturday mornings. It’s hard to catch someone in the act, but if they’re coming in and out of there with a pickup, suspicions are high for illegal dumping.
Town Supervisor Larry Ross said the emptiness of the road is why it’s so abused by dumpers. Getting cameras out there would hopefully deter people from dumping at all, and maybe catch some of the scofflaws unaware.
“If we could catch somebody, I think it would put an end to it,” said Ross.
It’s very difficult to catch people red-handed, said Clinton County Sheriff Patrol Lieutenant Paul Risetto. The dumping places are often like that untended stretch of Brunell Road — near a well-traveled highway but largely dark and uninhabited. Spots in Saranac, Mooers and Ellenburg are known dumping spots, too. Those conditions give the dumpers plenty of time to make sure they’re alone. If they dump in the darker hours, they’ll see the headlights of an approaching car long before they’re spotted breaking the law.
Most charges are a violation of Clinton County local law. First offenses for that can reach $500 and 15 days in jail. Offenders caught twice in a year can be charged with a misdemeanor, $1,000 in fines and six months in jail. Added to the fines are fees avoided at the landfill by dumping and the cleanup costs of the highway department.
The sheriff’s department had 178 complaints for illegal dumping from January 2011 to March 2012. Risetto said that despite the difficulty of catching someone in the act, they close those cases with charges more than 60 percent of the time.
The officers often find that the dumping is done by locals, often people moving who want to get rid of junk and don’t want to pay to do it.
Sometimes the items are buried under the snow, so the dumping spots will look even worse as spring comes around. Items that shed light on open burglary cases have been found by looking into dumping incidents. Risetto said they’ve found safes and footlockers that tied into such cases.
The Sheriff’s Office has Deputy Warren assigned to illegal dumping complaints. Call him at 565-4340 to report incidents. It’s especially helpful if information about the vehicles involved is available.