Knox looks to furniture bank to allay trash problem at transfer station

KNOX — While many cities and towns have furniture and other items discarded on the curb, the town of Knox has those things piled up at its transfer station, where residents often leave them. And, as with items left on the curb, others come to pick out “treasures.”

“It’s just part of the culture in Knox,” said town councilwoman Amy Pokorny. Pokorny is part of the Capital Region Recycling Partnership and works closely with transfer station employees, she said.

Now, the town is looking to offer these items to the Capital Region Furniture Bank, a local non-profit that would pick up much-needed furniture from the transfer station at no cost to the town.

“We’ve been trying to come up with ways to use some of the more usable items at the transfer station for some time now,” said town supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis at the May 9 town board meeting.

Peter Newkirk, of the Homeless and Travelers Aid Society, explained to the town board what the furniture bank does. While housing is often provided for those leaving jail or a rehabilitation program, furniture is not.

“It’s better than being out in the street,” said Newkirk. “But how long are you going to survive under these circumstances?”

The furniture bank helps those in need by gathering furniture that would otherwise be thrown out, cleaning it up, and distributing it at their warehouse. There, those in need can “shop” for what they want and have it be delivered to their homes.

“It emulates one that Catholic Charities had,” said Newkirk, of the program, adding that Catholic Charities had to shut down their similar program because it was not financially sustainable.

“What makes you more viable?” asked Lefkaditis.

“We’re not,” Newkirk said. “We’re a pretty crummy business model,” he added, noting the organization has costs involved with gathering furniture but no revenue.

It was first suggested at the meeting that the furniture bank could pick up furniture whenever it was available, but Newkirk said their van could not make the 70-mile, nearly 45-minute commute to their location in downtown Albany too many times at the risk of wasting gas or time. Councilman Liam Hanley suggested the town use a shipping container or truck trailer to hold items to be picked up by the furniture bank when full.

Pokorny told The Enterprise that the pick up would likely take place when the station is not open to the public. She also said she was not concerned that the donations would affect residents’ ability to pick up items at the transfer station, as the trailer will be open for them to drop off items as well as take them.

“I think there is plenty of stuff,” she said.

Planning board chairman Robert Price had first notified the town of the program. Price said that he found out from Father Peter Young, who is involved with the program.

Newkirk said at the meeting that, while they work closely with Father Young, the owner of the former Altamont rehabilitation facility, the furniture bank is not associated with him.


More Hilltowns News

  • The Berne Town Board voted, with the needed majority of 3, to formalize the town’s planning board, which Councilman Mathew Harris said in May was illegitimate. 

  • A Black Lives Matter rally planned by Berne resident Laurie Searl has drawn strong criticism on Facebook, leaving some would-be attendants worried about a counter-protest that could turn violent, as has happened both locally and across the country.

  • Berne’s town attorney Javid Afzali informed the town board at its July 22 meeting that the controversial Switzkill Farm property may have been acquired illegally because the 2014 town board did not allow for a permissive referendum following the purchase authorization. Then-supervisor Kevin Crosier tells The Enterprise that no referendum was required.

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