RUMFORD — To protect the health of their highway department employees, Rumford and Mexico are canceling the annual spring cleanup.

At a teleconference Thursday night, the Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 to follow the recommendation of Town Manager Stacy Carter.

“I’d like to make a recommendation that we either push it back or not do it this year,” Carter said. “The recommendation is based on CDC guidelines saying that the COVID-19 virus can remain on plastics and similar things for four to five days.”

The cleanup was scheduled for April 27 to May 8.

“I still think we can make an agreement with the transfer station that homeowners can take their own stuff if they would like, but I think this year we should at least push it back to the end of summer,” Carter said. “We’ll see how this goes, but certainly not do it this spring.”

The transfer station is at 342 River Road in Mexico.

“I’d like to make a motion that we cancel it for this year,” Selectman Mark Belanger said.

It was seconded by Selectman John Pepin.

The board amended the motion to allow the public to take their spring cleanup debris to the transfer station from April 27 to May 8.

Belanger asked what they can do about people who have already placed mattresses and other items outside to be picked up.

“We’ll notify the homeowners,” Carter said.

Road Commissioner Dale Roberts said it would be great if they postponed spring cleanup until next year because “my guys had great concerns about this epidemic that’s going on. Pushing it to next year might mean a bit more garbage to pick up, but we can handle it. I just don’t want to contaminate my guys and have them out sick.”

Board Chairman Chris Brennick said having the cleanup later would interrupt work the Highway Department would be doing.

“We’ve got to make sure people realize that there is a property maintenance ordinance,” he said. “You can’t just leave your crap on the side of the road. We’re not going to tolerate that.”

Pepin said an added benefit of canceling the cleanup is the highway department could devote more time to other tasks such as “working on the aesthetics of the town.”

“But this cleanup has a lot to do with the aesthetics of the town,” Selectman Peter Chase said.

“We’ve got to advertise it well that there isn’t going to be a cleanup,” Selectman Frank DiConzo said. “You may take it yourself, but please do not pile it out on the sidewalk.”

On Friday, Mexico Town Manager Jack Gaudet announced Mexico has also canceled its spring cleanup, which was to have been done the week after Rumford’s.

“We had already kind of made a decision,” Gaudet said. “We wanted to see what Rumford was going to do so that we were all consistent,” he said, adding the reason was to protect Highway Department workers.

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