Scarborough to add social media, consider trash options

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SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council on Wednesday adopted a social media policy to more effectively communicate with residents.

Prior to their regular meeting, councilors held a workshop with the energy committee to receive a presentation on composting options. The committee presented various options for trash, recyclables, and compost material, which the council plans to discuss in further detail at a later date.

The town will create a Facebook page and Twitter account in the coming months after it receives the results of a community engagement survey, which is on the town website.

“Not everyone uses social media, but a segment of the town does, and that’s why we’re pursuing this so aggressively,” Council Chairman William Donovan said.

Councilor Peter Hayes said it’s important for the town to utilize social media because it’s where more and more are turning to get information.

Councilor Jean Marie Caterina agreed.

“I think this is a good start for making sure we’re communicating with the residents of Scarborough in an effective way,” she said.

Hayes noted that a plan will need to be developed for how content is created and posted on social media accounts. The town social media accounts will be separate from those already used by town departments, such as the Scarborough Police Department’s Facebook page.

The policy was approved unanimously, with Councilor Kate St. Clair absent.

Composting report

The energy committee’s report on composting options came with four recommendations, including ongoing education efforts, leading by example, hiring a part-time sustainability coordinator, considering a pay-as-you-throw trash program, 0r curbside pick up for compost.

The report said 40 percent of municipal solid waste in town is compostable material, and 19 percent is recyclable. Councilors noted that statistics show that focusing on compost will have the most impact on reducing solid waste, which was their main intention when they requested the report.

The energy committee said one way to cut down on waste would be to implement a PAYT program, which charges people based on how much trash they throw away. The town last year considered implementing PAYT after North Carolina-based organization WasteZero presented it as an option. The Town Council moved the proposal to the energy committee for discussion.

Implementing PAYT would require six to nine months of educating residents before putting the program in place. Without proper education, the committee said, residents in other communities have objected to PAYT.

The other recommendation was curbside pickup for compost. The energy committee presented other options as well, including compost drop-off locations or backyard composting workshops.

Education and outreach about composting and recycling was also recommended by the committee. The report said it’s important for residents of all ages to understand the impact composting and recycling can have on reducing solid waste, and how to do it properly. 

The report also said the town should consider hiring a part-time sustainability coordinator who would oversee all of the recommendations and efforts.

Councilors said they want to discuss the report and recommendations in further detail at upcoming meetings. Some said they want to research how different options would affect residents financially before moving forward with anything. Donovan said throughout upcoming discussions, the council will develop an action plan to put the recommendations in place.

In other business,  the council also declared Feb. 17, 2016 to be Oasis Healthy Habits Day in Scarborough. They recognized a group from the Southern Maine Agency on Aging that has worked to bring CATCH Healthy Habits, an adult health program developed by the Missouri-based health organization Oasis, to town.

The group worked with Oasis and the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to host the programming, which focuses on fitness and nutrition. The programs were aimed at older adults and seniors, with the main goal of reducing obesity and heart health issues.

“I think this is great,” Caterina said. “The longer we can keep people healthy and out of nursing homes, the better.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.