By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO April 23, 2004 Sullivan County legislators spoke out on the landfill on Thursday, April 15, in between hearings at the issues conference.
The conference was held for an Administrative Law Judge with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to decide whether there were enough issues regarding the issuance of a permit for Cell 6 for an adjudicative hearing or a civil trial, which would delay construction of Cell 6 long enough to possibly shut down the landfill.
The respective positions of the Sullivan County legislators are as follows:
Chairman Chris Cunningham (D-District 1 Towns of Bethel, Cochecton, Tusten and the eastern half of Delaware)
We inherited a mess, said Cunningham. Weve really focused on getting a handle on management. There will be changes in the operations and management of the landfill.
Cunningham said he supports the Cell 6 permit as well as the Phase 2 plan.
Cell 6 covers 3.4 acres. The county spent an additional $3.7 million to purchase 89 acres adjacent to the pre-existing landfill. Forty-two acres of that property would be used for the expansion of the landfill after Cell 6 runs out of space. Cell 6, if approved, could close as early as 2006.
As far as importation goes, the chairman said that discussions were ongoing as to how much we can financially live with limits on garbage.
On the health issues facing residents who live around the landfill: We will continue to work as hard as we can to . . . mitigate the health effects assuming they are documented.
Cunningham also said that all alternatives will be discussed in the coming weeks, including a solid waste plan without a landfill.
Majority Leader Kathleen LaBuda (D-District 2 Highland, Lumberland, Forestburgh, and the southwestern third of Mamakating)
I inherited a mess, and I am going to clean it up, said the majority leader.
LaBuda said she supports the issuance of a permit for Cell 6 in order for the county to have time to plan for the future.
LaBuda said she is undecided about Phase 2.
If I would agree to Phase 2, we would have to buy them [homeowners] out around the landfill.
Speaking in Wurtsboro, LaBuda said she supports limiting the intake of waste to 100,000 tons. Last year, the landfill took in over 200,000 tons of garbage.
She said she supports terminating some of the contracts with outside haulers.
We are asking Rockland [County] to slow down. If we terminated [their contract immediately], we could be sued.
The county currently has a 7-year deal for importing waste from Rockland County, which expires in three years.
The county can terminate other contracts with proper notification.
LaBuda said that legislators and county officials would be going over the budget for 2005 in the next week so we dont raise property taxes. A raise in tipping fees at the landfill might alleviate some of the financial issues that could result from a 50 percent reduction of waste intake.
Weve spent $300,000 [over the last two months for the hiring of SCS, the odor control specialists], said LaBuda.
She added that the litter has been cleaned up and that a manager would be hired to oversee the operations of the landfill. She said the county is currently interviewing prospective applicants.
Sam Wohl (D-District 9 most of the Town of Thompson, including the landfill itself)
Wohl wants the landfill closed.
No Cell 6, no importation, no phase 2.
Close it, he said. The county will have to bite the bullet sometime. Lets bite it now.
Wohl pointed out that he has not had the opportunity to vote against any of the resolutions to expand the landfill and import waste, as they were passed prior to his term.
Ron Hiatt (D-District 8 the northern third of Thompson and the southern portion of Fallsburg encompassing Kiamesha Lake and South Fallsburg)
My position is the same, said Hiatt.
He opposes Cell 6 and Phase 2. He said Phase 2 was put in the wrong place. The landfill should die a natural death. I was against them buying the adjacent property [the $3.7 million deal for Phase 2]. . . . What happened? he wondered.
Hiatt cautioned that the hardships of not opening Cell 6 will be real and immediate. Hiatt added that he had several suggestions, which he will be offering during meetings with fellow legislators, where all options are supposed to be explored.
Hiatt added that "there is more to the landfill than expand or close. There are options."
Rodney Gaebel (R-District 5 Callicoon, Fremont, the western third of Liberty and the western half of Delaware)
Gaebel favors Phase 2 and Cell 6. The landfill shouldnt be a burden on the taxpayers, said Gaebel.
However, he said he supports limiting the the tonnage of Cell 6, as long as the landfill remained financially soluble. He believes the new flares installed over the last two months have greatly addressed the odor emanating from the site.
Leni Binder (R-District 7 most of the Town of Fallsburg and a southeastern portion of Neversink encompassing Grahamsville)
Binder said she supports the expansion of Cell 6 and Phase 2. She said she acknowledges there are problems with odor control but that limiting importation may not be possible due to the financial situation and some lengthy contracts with outside companies.
Binder asked rhetorically if funding for Sullivan County Community College or the Sullivan County Sheriffs Department should be cut in order to make up for a loss in revenue.
A gradual reduction in the waste tonnage would be the logical way to go, said Binder.
We are sparing no expense to control the litter and odors. I sympathize with a lot of the folks living there. But the landfill was there when they moved in, she declared.
Greg Goldstein (R-District 3 Rockland, most of Neversink, and the northern quarter of Liberty)
He favors Cell 6 and Phase 2. Like Gaebel, he is agreeable to limiting the tonnage at the landfill, by as much as 100,000 tons. In order to make up for a potential loss in revenue, he might support a countywide tax on waste for each town or an increase in tipping fees.
Jonathan Rouis (D-District 4 most of the Town of Mamakating)
Rouis approves of Cell 6s expansion. He is against importation of waste. On the other hand, he said he isnt sure how much of a tax hike the county can afford to make up for the cutback.
He believes that recent installment of flares at the site have done a good job of mitigating the smell. He said he empathizes with the people that live around the landfill.
We need to be open to all options, he said. A landfill needs to be a part of Sullivan Countys long-term future. We need to do everything we can to run the cleanest, most efficient landfill. We can and will do more.
Jodi Goodman (R-District 6 the eastern half of Liberty and the western quarter of Fallsburg)
Goodman said she would be in favor of Cell 6 and Phase 2 if there were stricter regulations on odors. Goodman declared that she is against importation. But she admitted that contracts with companies in Rockland and Dutchess County might be more costly if broken.
Goodman said the addition of flares and the hiring of SCS landfill specialists was a step in the right direction. More recycling is needed in the county, in her view.
We need to raise the bar higher, she concluded.