Women Seek to Establish New Swap Shack

Four energetic women are seeking to bring back a swap service similar to the old Norfstrom’s, formerly located at the transfer station. Their goal is to save the money it would cost the town to dispose of those items and to satisfy those who like to see useful things reused. 

Immediately after the Norfstrom’s container was removed from the transfer station last fall, these women began planning to resurrect the service.

The Norfstrom’s trailer, leased by Norfolk NET, ran into problems through a lack of adequate supervision. Items were left outside the trailer during off hours, materials that were often trash. The selectmen ended the service last year.

“Their intentions were good, but they didn’t have enough volunteers,” said First Selectman Matt Riiska. 

Susan Sloan, head of the ad hoc committee, approached Riiska to discuss a new recycling effort. “We realized all the problems from before and we talked to Jim [Powelzyk, the transfer station attendant] and Matt,” she said. “We didn’t want to do anything without their blessing.”

To raise funds, Sloan started retrieving recyclable bottles and cans from the waste stream. “You wouldn’t believe the number of bottles and cans people throw away, even at 10 cents a can,” she said. The effort has raised almost enough money to buy a trailer valued at $2,800 to $3,600. 

Shelving will be installed and it will be painted, perhaps with a mural on the side. The bin will be renamed the Norfolk Swap Shop and only Norfolk residents with transfer station permits can bring items.

“We don’t want people using it to get rid of their bulky waste without paying a fee. If it’s garbage, you know where it goes,” Sloan said. “People must be respectful of others’ hard work, or it will go away.”

Sloan stressed that there is still much work to do. Signage and a pamphlet will be developed listing guidelines. Everything will be stored inside, and recyclables will be restricted to small items.

The women plan to be onsite during warmer months and to close in the winter. “We are trying to keep it fun,” Sloan said.

Riiska and Selectman Henry Tirrell voted at Wednesday’s selectmen’s meeting to allow the project to go forward. Selectman Sandy Evans, who is opposed to it, abstained. She objected based on past experiences and did not like the selectmen reversing a previous decision.

“It soured a lot of people before because of how it was run,” Riiska said at the selectmen’s meeting. “I know Susan is clear about how it will be handled, but we will keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get messy and burden the staff.”

The ad hoc committee will give the container to the town if the project does not work. 

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