L to E: Leave “Take-It-or-Leave-It” alone—it works for the community

April 8, 2014
by Robin Murphy

Dear Adam, Elise, Jason & Lisa,

Yesterday, someone mentioned on the Chappaqua Moms facebook page about the changes in Take It Or Leave It.  When pressed for an explanation, Rob Greenstein responded as follows:

Yup, no more take it. It was a BIG problem for our recycling guys. They were the ones who requested the change. John Buckley also asked me to do away with it. It was a program meant for residents to leave stuff, and other residents take stuff. The problem is that the only people taking stuff were the same non-residents every week. Not only did it force us to staff the shed, it led to confrontations with our recycling staff. Many of the items taken would then find their way into the goodwill shop - where they were sold. Allegedly, some of our DPW workers were also taking stuff and selling it on eBay. Bottom line, it turned into something that was not it’s intended purpose.

When asked if a group of volunteers would come forward to manage the project, he came back and said:

We signed a 6 month agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters. We are giving it a shot. If volunteers want to organize something for the future, go for it.

I recall my family’s visits to the shed and there were always volunteers there but I didn’t know whether something changed since then.  However, tonight I was forwarded an email, (copied below) written by Marian Williams, long time resident, wife of our Town Historian, and, I believe, a volunteer at Take It or Leave It.  Her email represents a very different picture than the one described by Rob Greenstein.  It also shows that his statement that an agreement has been signed is not truthful as it is on tomorrow night’s agenda.

I also was assured that there are, in fact, many committed volunteers dedicated to supporting the project and it is not run by the town staff.  Lastly, I was told that the reason the Town Board has agreed to shut down this very special Chappaqua project is “because the Town Administrator can’t figure out how to handle it.”  Granted, I do not know if this is fact but if it is, it is very disappointing.  If there is another reason, I’d like to know what it is and what effort has been taken to put together a way to address and resolve the issues while allowing TIOLI to continue.

Here’s Marian Williams’ email:

Well! I was unable to access the agenda for tomorrow night’s Town Board Meeting, but called Town Hall. The Clerk’s assistant said “It doesn’t look like recycling is on the agenda.” But I went to Town Hall anyway, and fortunately there was a copy of the agenda. Under “Authorization to Approve”, item 12, is “License Agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters.” What time this comes up depends on the length of all the other business transactions. At least it’s before the Monthly Reports of various departments.

I am certainly planning to be there, and will speak. I think the TB has no idea how popular TIOLI has been, and what a service to the landfill it is - direct transfer of stuff, much of it usable but not salable, from people who want to leave and people who can use. No trucking, an incentive for people to use the recycling center rather than load up the curbside trash collectors. The issue of “out-of-towners” (especially volunteers) “poaching” is nonsense. The volunteers are certainly entitled to find things they might want, and so what if someone sells something at a tag sale? The Farmers’ Market and TIOLI are regular Saturday pleasures for me, and I’m highly annoyed at the way this matter has not been discussed. The new board ran on a platform of “transparency” - HA!!!

Hope you all will pass this message on to people you know who have used and admired TIOLI.


*  *  *  *  *

I realize that the vote is tomorrow [now tonight, April 8].  I hope that before you casually agree to terminate TIOLI, you will reconsider.  As a newish member of the community posted tonight, “Things like TIOLI may be thought to be of little consequence to some in town, but it’s sometimes these small things that help to define a community.”

Please consider preserving TIOLI.

Yours truly,
Robin Murphy
428 Quaker Road

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

The “take it” part was creating a big problem for our recycling guys. They were the ones who requested the change. It was a program meant for residents to leave stuff, and other residents take stuff. The problem is that the only people taking stuff were the SAME non-residents every week. Not only did it force us to staff the shed, it led to confrontations with our recycling staff. Many of the items taken would then find their way into the goodwill shop - where they were sold.

We ended up with Big Brothers & Big Sisters because they were willing to man it and give out receipts. People are free to donate to whoever they want. But the take it or leave it shop became something it was never intended to be. Unfortunately it won’t be the first time that a few people ruined something good for everyone else.

SAB was informed of the problem. The Sustainability Advisory Board is charged with promoting sustainability. They felt that the new model achieves their goals.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will reuse the donations. We will not be spending any more money to work with BBBS, and in fact, people who donate can get a tax break. As far as the social impact, BBBS is providing a very valuable social service. We are helping create a social benefit.

For the sake of the town’s character and to provide a service to residents, it may be valuable to continue the old model. If there are enough people in the town who want to see TIOLI continue in its old format and are willing to devote the time and effort required for finding and executing a better solution than is currently proposed, it certainly would be worth listening.

By Rob Greenstein on 04/08/2014 at 4:26 pm

The TIOLI shop continues to be a good idea.  If out of towners are taking too much make all dropoffs and pickups at the yard be subject to driver’s license inspection.

By Mike R. on 04/08/2014 at 4:53 pm

I can’t believe that the Take It or Leave It Shop is going to be terminated.  I’ve lived in Chapp. for 50 years and have used the TIOLI shop as long as it’s been in existence.  So what if a volunteer takes something as long as it’s going to someone who can use it.  So what if the people who go there, go there week after week.  They obviously find things that they need.  I live in Chapp. and I’ve found things there that I needed.  Because i live in Chapp. and can afford to go out and buy a new one, does it mean that I shouldn’t keep something out of a landfill?  Shame on all of you who want to close this down.  It’s a wonderful place.

By Nora Mackenzie on 04/08/2014 at 5:09 pm

Who cares who takes the stuff as long as it is getting a last chance before it fills up our landfills and cost the town money to collect as garbage.  The tenor of this town has changed for the worse.

By Bad News on 04/08/2014 at 6:55 pm

Although I once got a great little umbrella stroller there, I’ve mostly left things at the shed, and been very happy not to toss them or put them out by the road. I really don’t care if non-residents are taking the stuff—if they bother to come and see what’s there, if they can use it or sell it, good for them.

Do we anticipate a huge influx of out-of-towners hovering in the yard for loot, or is it out-of-town drop-offs we’re dreading? If enforcing the residency requirement is an issue, why not stop enforcing it and see what happens?

By Teresa Bueti on 04/08/2014 at 10:59 pm

On the work session last week?  I just learned about it today!  What happened to communication from this new team??????  His first 100 days! As far as I am concerned, I cannot wait until he is done.

By Rob said he signed the contract? on 04/08/2014 at 11:03 pm

Rob and Jill, Have either of you gone down on a Sat morning to observe the operation?  SAB is agreeable because as long as the operation takes the waste out of the landfills, why wouldn’t it? But you are missing the point.  You did not study this.  You are both new and inexperienced.  Listen to the residents.  DPW doesn’t like it so you are going to change it? Rob you said go find people to do it.  Are we going to have less people staffing the Recycling Center when this change is made.  Did not hear anything about the savings Rob/Jill.  I am certain the DPW guys did not offer that while they were
complaining.  We like this shop.

By Do your full research first on 04/09/2014 at 7:43 am

Last night I learned about this change for the first time.  Although I have a lot to say about the process, others have articulated that well here and on the other post.  I would like to know how this group was chosen.  I am sure they are a worthy group but I like to support Goodwill whenever possible.  They make jobs for challenged individuals.  Were they approached for this opportunity as well? It appeared from the Administrator that she contacted this one group.  FYI in Bedford Hills across 117 from Shoprite, Goodwill has opened a drop off only shop.

By Big Brothers and Big Sisters on 04/09/2014 at 8:07 am

Anyone who believes its “a big problem for our DPW guys” probably has really spoiled kids.  Its their JOB, and the work is all done by volunteers. Who cares who takes the stuff- its staying out of the landfills.  If you close it, a lot of this stuff will end up on the curb for garbage day, and then out of towners are free to troll the streets and take what they want.

By Leave TIOLI along on 04/09/2014 at 11:19 am

Hey Board members- the town elected you, not John Buckley.  Why is he calling the shots?

By Forget John Buckley on 04/09/2014 at 11:22 am

We have been taker and leaver for years. I am pleased if anybody from anywhere can use (or sell) what is there. If it is being manned by volunteers why would DPW have problem? By the way who do these DPW guys work for? Not us?

By Banvir Chaudhary on 04/09/2014 at 4:39 pm

This sounds like a solution in search of a problem. Why shut down a community exchange? I am not seeing any compelling or logical argument here.

By Matt Egan on 04/10/2014 at 12:39 am

The Town Administrator didn’t know how to handle it?  Rob is listening to John Buckley? How is JB involved?  Why is he involved? Recycling employees are complaining? Do you know how many would like to have their jobs?  Something doesn’t smell right.  I have been going down there for years.  I hope this is not taken away!!

By Unbelievable on 04/10/2014 at 5:05 pm

Yes it may be a pain in the butt, but we are paying salaries to absorb the aggravation, if any.

By could be annoying on 04/11/2014 at 9:30 am

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