By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 26, 2003 The latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Sullivan County Landfill took place Thursday when many residents made their thoughts and feelings on the landfill known to the Sullivan County Legislature at its monthly meeting.
They implored the Legislature to reconsider importation and the proposed expansion.
We have been vacationing here 30 years. We look forward to come here, commented summer resident Thomas Karfunkel. Once the landfill grows, it will not stop. It is dangerous. It is an opportunity for you to make money at the expense of the citizens. This is the vacation capital, not the garbage capital. You must find an alternate way to finance your budget.
I have vacationed here in excess of 30 years and enjoy being here, remarked summer resident Stanley Berger. The thought of expansion frightens me. I am upset. I am not happy that you use this process to raise money on our backs. Stop it now!
The garbage dump is an eyesore, noted Shirley Cohen, who lives near the landfill. The gases travel. It is hazardous and a health risk. You need to be responsible for the deterioration of our health. Give that consideration.
I love this place, summer resident Brenda Stoho stated. I cant believe you would do this. You should have a sign that says, Welcome to the Garbage Dump. It is unbelievable! You must stop it.
I represent the community and the unborn children, Carol Pearlman said. You have no right to choose garbage over people. Put it someplace that is uninhabitable. Where there is life, there is hope. There is no hope for the future with expansion.
And the comments kept coming.
You make $5 million on the landfill and lose $17 million in real estate, another summer resident, Mindy Berkowitz, commented. It is a washout. You will ruin the community. We have come here 20, 30, 40 years. We support local business. You need to detoxify. The first sign before we come here is a cemetery. Now, it is prophetic. Please reconsider.
We discussed expansion a few years ago, summer resident Fran Gertiman remarked. It should last a long time. We can smell it. It is not fair. You are using our resource to put everyone elses garbage in our backyard. Please listen to those who pay taxes.
I invite all of you to lunch on Rose Valley Road, stated Sheena Levin. It is Unit 54. You will lose your appetite. The stink is horrendous. We are not exaggerating. It is beyond belief. We used to smell pine trees when we came up here. Now we smell the landfill. You have no clue what comes into the landfill. This is not a game. You represent us. This is not fair.
The Legislature did not respond to public comment. (Traditionally, they do listen but do not respond.) After the meeting, however, some of the legislators did share their thoughts.
I dont disagree with them, commented District 8 Legislator Bob Kunis. (His district includes part of the Town of Thompson.) They should be free of noxious odors. I support their efforts. We need to discuss it.
I am going to lunch at Unit 54, remarked District 9 Legislator Jim Carnell Jr. Carnell represents the area in which the landfill is situated and has been a vocal opponent of expansion and importation.
There are issues to deal with such as odor and traffic, admitted District 5 Legislator Rodney Gaebel. (Gaebel chairs the Department of Public Works Committee, which oversees the landfill.) We operate to our best ability. It is one of the best-run landfills in New York State. I dont know if cutting importation would solve the problem. As long as we have an existing landfill, and even after closure, there will be an odor issue. Importation is only responsible for ten percent of the traffic. It is minor in the total picture.
There are still issues we have to deal with, Gaebel continued. We work hand-in-hand with the DEC [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation]. We are on top of the issue and are taking corrective measures.
We have an agreement with the [New York] Power Authority to build a plant to convert the gases to green power, Gaebel went on. That will also help with the problem.
The Special Protection for the Environment of the County of Sullivan (SPECS) and other concerned citizens requested a meeting with the legislators to discuss the issue and clear up some misconceptions and misunderstandings.
That meeting is scheduled for today at 5 p.m. at the Sullivan County Government Center in the Legislative Hearing Room. General Services Commissioner Harvey Smith is expected to give a presentation on the history of the landfill and detail the safety and health precautions they take.