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SF meeting petitioners speak out on landfill (video)

One by one speakers approached the podium and delivered remarks on the future of the Seneca Meadows landfill, as well as the recent expansions of Finger Lakes Railway. Altogether 23 individuals spoke out against the landfill, proposed trash trains, and Seneca Falls’ continued dependence on Seneca Meadows. More than 150 were in attendance with ages of attendees ranging from six to eight years old — all the way up to Seneca Falls residents of 50 or more years. Brad Jones, a current resident and former mayor of Seneca Falls, said that it was time for the Board of Supervisors to step up to the plate. He suggested that in the coming weeks, all board members should go on the record to close Seneca Meadows. Jones also pointed to a financial plan, which is being put together by himself and others from Seneca Falls that will be submitted to the board within 60 days to contend with life after Seneca Meadows. Peter Pontius called the entire ordeal a microcosm of addiction. This region has become addicted to the money brought in by trash, he said. Joanne Elliot referred to the entire business as the “trash for cash” business, which has perpetuated this struggle for the region. An unfortunate reality, many pointed out, is that communities like Seneca Falls and Waterloo have relied on Seneca Meadows — in one form or another — for years, making a clean break from the trash industry — difficult or seemingly impossible.Another speaker pointed out that if things don’t change soon — the only thing we’ll see more of in the Seneca Falls area are disappearing families, properties, and business. Some speakers blamed New York State Sen. Mike Nozzolio and Assemb. Brian Kolb for their lack of action on the subject. According to many of the speakers, this has been an issue that has persisted for decades — but mild reaction now does nothing to revert the damage already done by Seneca Meadows.“Don’t make us the next Flint, Michigan,” said Dylan Paolicelli of Seneca Falls. Opponents of the landfill point out that this is something that goes far beyond an obnoxious order. This is something that could be impacting the very fundamentals of life in the Finger Lakes. Concerns about future generations, current business, and tourism were all raised — but perhaps most-telling was when a 14-year-old took the podium to deliver her concerns about the Seneca Meadows landfill. Margaux Eller, of Seneca Falls delivered one of the sharpest messages of the night. My friends and I will leave for college and never return, she said to a rousing ovation. A message like this is powerful enough delivered by an adult — but to be delivered by someone who fits into that youthful category was telling. Eller even went as far as to ask the board to issue a stop work order, as many of the speakers did. Eller wasn’t the only youth representing the opposition in Tuesday’s meeting. Brody Herron of Seneca Falls delivered a nearly identical message — citing his love for the outdoors, and how significantly Seneca Meadows impacted his ability to spend time outside. Seneca County Supervisor Stephen Churchill did not shy away from comment — as he brought a map — which highlighted just how close the local schools are to the landfill. “They pay no sales tax” he said, pleading with those in attendance. “They are anything but a humble benefactor” he continued, referencing the money they donate to charitable entities in exchange for silence, or branding. “This will be the death of tourism as we know it,” one opponent said, citing the large volume of wineries in the region. “I’m asking you to save our children,” they continued, pointing out that Seneca Falls’ legacy hangs in the balance. Perhaps most-fittingly, near the end of the speakers — Michelle LeBrun said, “2023 should be the expiration of the dump,” putting an exclamation point on the sentiments nearly everyone in attendance shared. FingerLakes1.com requested comment from Seneca Meadows following the meeting. While they share some of the concerns opponents have voiced, they pointed out that they will do everything they can going forward to work with those who call Seneca County home. Their statement read:“We’ve always had an ‘open book’ approach to operations at Seneca Meadows. Our joint project with Finger Lakes Rail is no different. People need to know the facts. Switching to rail will lead to cleaner air and far less congestion on local roads. We’re not increasing our overall daily volume of materials by one pound; the only thing that is going to change with this New York City contract is the mode of transportation. Our commitment to being a valued partner and a trusted neighbor includes sharing as much information as possible with interested parties. We take local input very seriously, and we’ll continue to listen to comments from our neighbors moving forward.”A peaceful protest was scheduled for March 12th at 9:00 am, which will include a walk along the railroad tracks through Seneca Falls — starting around the Seneca Falls Library. FingerLakes1.com will have more from the meeting on Wednesday, including a story on a new app related to this issue, which will be making its debut on Kickstarter in the coming weeks.– Report by Josh Durso / Video by Tera Erway, FingerLakes1.com News

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