By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO August 30, 2005 The heat continued to rise in the Village of Monticello as residents grew more upset with their board for not passing a law to ban the expansion of the Sullivan County Landfill.
The village had written a draft law last spring but declined to act, after Mayor James Barnicle said he would work with the county to find alternate solutions. The board agreed with him, with only Trustee Scott Schoonmaker opposing the delay.
Several months later, and with the county in the midst of its application process for expanding, the village is still putting off a decision on the law. Another public hearing will be held on September 12, at which time the village may have the law ready and could act on it. Barnicle said that village attorney Danielle Jose and assistant attorney Tim Havas have both recommended two public hearings.
The long wait has ticked off several citizens. For the second meeting in a row, dozens of them shouted at the board for not acting to protect them from what they view as a clear and present health hazard.
And the facts back them up, as Eugene Weinstein has produced studies from the New York State Department of Health which prove that emissions from landfills pose a risk of bladder cancer and leukemia four times greater than the national average for those who live between 250 and 1,000 feet from a trash site.
On September 12, the board will meet with Taylor Recycling, a company based in Orange County, that has been lauded by not only the village but the Town of Thompson and Sullivan County for its clean and efficient way of disposing waste. Yet none of the governing bodies have made any agreements with them. The Town of Thompson Board will also be present at that meeting.
According to Barnicle, the town and village boards could pass resolutions endorsing Taylor Recycling as a viable option to the county landfill. Barnicle said he hopes Sullivan County legislators will be on hand for the meeting. If the resolutions pass, the boards would bring them to the county.
The mayor said he will give the county an opportunity to act. If not, the village board may pass a resolution to ban the landfill as early as September 19.
My hope is that the county will come along with us, said Barnicle.
Residents like former Village of Monticello Trustee David Rosenberg urged the board not to confuse a possible deal with Taylor Recycling for opposing the expansion of the landfill. He also advised them not to agree to any possible host benefit arrangements.
They dont respect us, said Rosenberg of the Sullivan County Legislature. There is no such thing as a good landfill.
Most upset, however, were those who live at Mountain Lodge Estates, a seasonal community of approximately 60 families which sits across the street from the landfill. The expansion would push the waste site within 250 feet of their property.
Residents will be returning to New York City in September, and most will not have the opportunity to watch the proceedings in September. Furthermore, many said they were led to believe that the village would act on this night, rather than another date.
One member of Mountain Lodge said This is about a future for our children and grandchildren. . . . This board is supposed to be our voice.
Roz Sharoff, President of the Monticello Seniors Club, reiterated her steadfast opposition to the landfill.
All of the people in Monticello do not want the dump. . . . Its time you stand up for us, she said.
Ken Heins, owner of the Farmers Market in Monticello (which is close to the waste center), expressed his frustration with delays, attorneys and studies.
Its another stall, he said of the boards actions. Weve been coming here for three years. Its time for a vote.
He said there have been over 5,000 signatures opposing the expansion.
Janet Newberg, one of the founders of SPECS (the most visible group which has been fighting the landfill), asked when it became Monticellos responsibility to have a landfill. Other towns have passed laws prohibiting a landfill, she said. It will only result in more air, water and soil pollution. Any perceived short-term economic benefits cannot outweigh the long-term health effects, she stated.
Afterwards, residents asked for the boards opinion.
Only one trustee, Gordon Jenkins, would speak. He said he visited Mountain Lodge Estates twice recently. Although he said he gained a stronger understanding of their situation, he was not inclined to make a judgment on how the village should act yet. He wants to know the financial ramifications of any decision.
I wouldnt be out there if I didnt care, he said.