Craig Libby carries a pail of sand from the sand shed in Greene to his pickup truck on Jan. 3. Libby said he has a long dirt driveway and he picks up free sand once a week during the winter. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

GREENE — A resident has criticized the town’s plans to protect the residential sand supply following two recent thefts.

Robert Hack told selectmen at their meeting Monday that he did not believe the town should be spending “thousands of dollars,” by his estimation, to protect the pile when taking from it is not a crime.

Town Manager Darlene Beaulieu said the town spent $300 to purchase a Jersey barrier using American Rescue Plan Act funds, but expects the security measures, which may also include cameras and lights, to cost no more than $1,000.

Board Chairman Anthony Reny pushed back against Hack’s claim that stealing the supply from the shed is not a crime: “It can be prosecuted if there’s evidence, proper evidence to do so,” he said.

Hack additionally questioned whether the town will be reimbursed for the thefts, which Beaulieu previously estimated total $600.

“I would have to say, no, we are not seeking reimbursement, and the reason why not is the same reason why the Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t press charges against him,” Reny said.

Martin Fournier, director of communications and records management at the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office explained Tuesday that two deputies investigated the incident, but after speaking with witnesses and looking at the available evidence, the case was closed and will not be brought forward for prosecution.

In the last two weeks of December, the town’s entire supply of residential-use sand was stolen twice, according to town officials. They believe the sand, which is mixed with salt, was taken to be used for commercial purposes.

Residents are allowed to take a maximum of two buckets of sand per storm to treat slippery driveways and walkways.

“I can assure you that what we are doing to move forward is taking the steps necessary to set up some type of recording and security,” Reny said. “More lighting, better lighting, cameras, everything there so we can start recording and see firsthand what is going on there and have a record of it.”

Beaulieu said Tuesday that this is not the first time the town has been concerned with people taking advantage of the sand pile. The town has had problems with residents taking more than their allotted two buckets and suspects nonresidents have also taken from the pile. However, the issue has not previously been addressed.

Town officials are bolstering security to prevent financial loss and make sure the resource is available to residents when needed, she said.

Hack additionally said the town is not trying hard enough to reopen the transfer station on Sunday.

Residents must bring their trash to the town transfer station, which is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Previously, it was also open Sunday, but staffing shortages have pushed the town to modify the schedule.

“How can you hire somebody (for Sunday) if you don’t even advertise?” Hack asked. “There is no advertisement anywhere in the town. You’re advertising for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for the transfer station and two days at public works, no mention of Sunday.”

Beaulieu said she has only recently gotten applications for the positions after months of advertising. The positions have been advertised on Facebook, cable, and the town website, however applicants say they are not willing to work Sundays, she said.

Public Works Foreman Gary Bedford added that at least two people would be needed to reopen the transfer station Sundays.

“That place is out of control if there’s one person up there,” he said. “You get people running and dumping wherever they want to. Every day I’ve gone up there to work, every day I’ve turned away a minimum of 10 people that do not live in the town. So one person, there’s no way they can do that.”

Hack said the hours make it difficult for working parents who have kids with Saturday sports competitions to dispose of their trash, and he said residents have been persuaded to pay for a dumpster service instead.

“That’s your speculation, we’re not going to get into that here tonight, or any night,” Reny said. “The town of Greene is a group of neighborly people. I, for one, take my neighbor’s trash to the transfer station, my neighbor takes my trash to the transfer station. We all have neighbors, and we build relationships, that’s the human thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. The town is not forcing people … to get a dumpster for their house.”

When the town is able to hire enough people to reopen Sundays, it will do so, he continued.

In other business, the town successfully purchased a 2015 Freightliner plow truck from Vermont. The truck, which was purchased with American Rescue Plan Act money, cost $80,000. The town now has four working plow trucks.

In another matter, town officials will hold an executive session to negotiate a proposed solar farm lease at an undetermined date in the upcoming weeks. Town residents will ultimately be able to vote on the contract at a special town meeting.

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