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Waste Management apologizes to disabled Lynn woman

Susan Palladino stands with her trash barrels on the sidewalk in front of her house. Her children moved the barrels after Waste Management left them at the end of her driveway (left.) (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — A disabled Lynn woman is fed up with being stranded in her home because the city’s contracted trash hauler keeps leaving barrels in the middle of her driveway after pick-up service.

But the situation appears to have reached a happy conclusion for now. Susan Palladino was able to collect an apology from Waste Management on Wednesday.

Palladino, an Eastern Avenue resident, had a spinal stroke in November 2016 and lung surgery in August, leaving her disabled. The weakness of her spine leads to compound fractures and the muscle strength in her legs is lacking.  

The 58-year-old said she can walk, but doesn’t have the strength to move the trash barrels left in the middle of her driveway from Waste Management.

“I could really hurt myself if I tried to lift (the barrels),” she said. “I’m really not a complainer. I just don’t know what else to do. How does anyone protect the disabled?”

Whenever the issue occurs, she’s effectively stranded in her own home until her husband or adult children come home to move the barrels. If she happens to be out and about before trash pick-up, she can’t pull into her driveway after returning home.

Parking on the street isn’t often an option for her, because she lives across from two businesses and the two parking spots in front of her home are usually occupied. With Eastern Avenue being a main drag, parking across the street from her home is too dangerous, Palladino said.

Palladino said the issue has been going on forever, but she became unable to help herself in September. She contacted the city and said she was told to call Waste Management.

She said she’s made six official complaints to Waste Management and was told by a route manager it wouldn’t happen again. But on Wednesday, she told The Item she was upset because the problem had stopped for two weeks since the apology, but happened again that day.

“They did it again,” Palladino said. “They moved barrels in the middle of the driveway and I was stranded again. So, I called the city. I’m beside myself. They basically told me it was my problem … I was very upset. I pay taxes and I can’t leave my driveway.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Palladino said she had given up on the situation, as she had called the city’s Department of Public Works and Waste Management and was still waiting on a callback.

When The Item contacted Lisa Nerich, DPW associate commissioner, she said it was the first time she was hearing about the situation and planned to notify Waste Management about the issue. She said a call had been placed by Palladino to the DPW office that afternoon and one of the clerks had spoken with her.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Palladino texted The Item to say the route manager from Waste Management had called her to apologize again about the barrel placement and said it would be the last time.

“I reached out to Waste Management so we could rectify the problem,” Nerich said in a subsequent phone call early Wednesday evening. “There is a new driver on the route today (Wednesday). The route manager spoke with the resident and came up with a new placement of the carts so hopefully this resolves the matter.”

Nerich said Eastern Avenue is a main road, so the city has to think about the safety of the drivers as well. Trash pick-up becomes difficult when cars are parked on the street and trucks don’t have access to the barrels, which means the driver has to get out of the truck, move the cart and place it back down.

“You get (similar complaints) with new drivers, but a phone call is made directly to Waste Management and it’s rectified (for) the following week. It’s not an everyday situation.”

Nerich reiterated that Wednesday was the first she had heard of the issue. She said Palladino had been communicating with Waste Management, which is between her and the trash hauler, but DPW likes to resolve the problem immediately.

A spokesman for Waste Management, Garrett Trierweiler, said he didn’t have much to add beyond the city’s comments.

“We’ll continue to work with all parties to see that this issue is resolved,” he wrote in an email.

Palladino said she wanted to go public with her story to raise awareness for others who may have the same problem.

“I’m sure if it’s happening to me, it’s happening to other people,” she said. “I can’t be the only disabled person. I have family members that can help. What if they don’t have anybody. What do they do?”

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