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Contributed Illustration

THIS ILLUSTRATION, CREATED by a group called SPECS that is opposed to further expansion and trash importation at the Sullivan County Landfill in Monticello, shows a deliberately unfavorable view of the potential height of the landfill, as seen from East Broadway across from the old Apollo Plaza.

Landfill Not Wanted,
At Least in Monticello

By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO — July 22, 2003 – The debate over the Sullivan County Landfill continued at the Village of Monticello Board meeting on Monday, July 7.
The Special Protection of the Environment for the County of Sullivan (SPECS) group had asked the board to do a presentation on the landfill at the meeting, so approximately 80 people turned out. Monticello Mayor Gary Sommers and Trustee Mary Jo Oppenheim were not at the meeting.
“I drove a garbage truck, and I know garbage when I smell it,” remarked Deputy Mayor David Rosenberg, who ran the meeting. “The county is being shortsighted. Importation is wrong. This is not about money. It is a resource to the people. It is a resource for today and the future.”
“I support clean air and the environment,” Trustee Victor Marinello Jr. commented. “Importation has gotten out of hand. We need to bring it to a close.”
Rosenberg pointed out that the village sees no revenue from the landfill.
“The county uses the landfill to balance the budget,” Rosenberg stated. “It is like a narcotic – they can’t stop. I’m not angry at the county. They just should not use the landfill as a tool to balance the budget. They need to use other methods.”
Rosenberg said that the two legislators who represent Monticello, Bob Kunis and Jim Carnell Jr., voted against the landfill’s expansion.
Then a presentation was given by SPECS Co-Chairs Janet Newberg and Cynthia Niven, who went over the environmental and health problems they feel the landfill poses. They were backed by a Powerpoint presentation with statistics and projections of what the landfill will be like in the future.
“Even though people hear about the expansion, no one really has any concept of its magnitude,” Niven said. “The county is focused on the landfill as a money-maker, but the $1.5 million in landfill profit [Carnell later corrected that figure to over $5 million per year] from importation is peanuts as compared to lost tourism, real estate, and sales tax revenue caused by the expansion.
“Monticello is the county seat, its most populous village, where many people shop and do business. They all see this landfill if they travel along East Broadway,” she continued. “Monticello is still a summer vacation destination and will also be the gateway to the county’s biggest proposed development projects.”
Niven pointed out that their information came from the county’s own 1997 environmental study. Currently, the height of the landfill is 120 feet. With the expansion, it could go as high as 250 feet, she said.
“How do we control this monstrosity?” Niven asked. “With importation, the landfill will last 30 years. Without it, it would last 80 years. Is this what you want in your community?”
Niven mentioned that the state Department of Environmental Conservation was holding a meeting on the landfill at the Thompson Town Hall on Tuesday, August 12 at 7:30 p.m. She asked to meet with the Village Board to present a united front.
“The county took over the old landfill,” remarked former Thompson Supervisor David Kaufman. “There was a no-import clause in the contract. The county went to court to have it removed. They have twice broken their promise. They should find a new site. There has to be concern over the environment and the people. That is paramount above revenue. We need to look at this seriously.”
Resident after resident voiced their opinions on the landfill. Afterwards, they asked Carnell what they could do.
“You could file an Article 78 lawsuit like everyone else,” Carnell commented. “If we stop importation, we can double the landfill’s life. I have suggested that we buy the houses around the landfill.”
Carnell told the crowd that the legislature was holding a special Department of Public Works (DPW) meeting the following Thursday. The meeting was called to discuss building a power plant that would turn methane gas into electrical power.
At least one attendee did stick up for the other legislators.
“There are eight legislators not here tonight,” Rosenberg said. “They are not evil people. They do not mean to inflict harm. They are doing their darndest not to hurt their communities. It is a tough, tough thing to do.”
The board passed a resolution opposing expansion and importation. A copy of the resolution will be sent to the DEC, the County Legislature, and all the towns and villages in the county.
“Our hands are tied,” Rosenberg said as a final thought. “They cannot continue to do this. They cannot raise taxes or cut services. Let’s hope their good sense prevails.”

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