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Inside the FLX: Jones, Camera discuss landfilling

Thursday on Inside the FLX former Seneca Falls Mayor Brad Jones and current 4th Ward Geneva City Councilman Ken Camera — joined Josh Durso to discuss the politics around a grassroots movement to stop the expansion of landfilling locally. In both Seneca Falls and Geneva, two landfills have been at the center of a hotly contested debate regarding the impact they have on surrounding communities. Jones, who has been a vocal leader and supporter for those fighting against landfill expansion in Seneca County — along with the Concerned Citizens of Seneca County and Finger Lakes Zero Waste — said that the time to act is now.His sentiments were echoed by Camera, who pointed to a similar problem in Ontario County. Speaking to the problem beyond the borders of Seneca or Ontario counties Camera explained that, “We have to take a regional perspective. We’re connected by this lake.” He concluded that “the Finger Lakes is connected by the wine and tourism business,” which in his estimation means this is a problem that impacts everyone in the region.Jones said, “We originally figured between 20-25 individuals” would be involved in the “Walk along the Tracks” that took place on March 12th in Seneca Falls. He estimated that as many as 250, or perhaps even 300 took part in marching to raise awareness and show the community just how important this issue remains. The pair spent some time talking about the proposed expansion of landfilling, which included an expansion of a PILOT program from the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency, as well as a proposed contract with New York City, which would bring trash by rail to the Seneca Meadows Landfill on Route 414 in the Town of Seneca Falls.Both agreed that where these landfill operations go wrong is accepting waste from outside the region. The solid waste coming in from other municipalities generates revenue — in form of tax revenue. One common argument in favor of Seneca Meadows has been that the $2,500,000 million being generated through the host agreement for Seneca Falls, as well as the $500,000 being generated for Waterloo — if lost — could prove financially disastrous for both municipalities. Jones talked at length about a plan, which he and a few others on a Citizens Advisory Committee have been working on since January. He estimated that in the next 30 days the committee would have a solid plan, for coping with the lost tax revenue, if Seneca Meadows were to be removed from the equation by 2023. The year 2023 and 2028 are significant for the Seneca and Ontario landfills because they are the described end dates, which have been commonly talked about throughout the region. While there is no guarantee that either of those years will mark the end of any landfilling operations — it does give opponents a place to focus their energy.In Ontario County, opponents of landfilling have been working to organize a walk — similar to the one that took place in Seneca Falls this month — to raise awareness and show officials at the local, county, and state level that the people are united against things that don’t align with their areawide vision.After the cameras stopped rolling, both Jones and Camera agreed pointing out that “It isn’t just ‘my’ sandbox, or ‘their’ sandbox — it’s a regional sandbox — and those throughout the Finger Lakes have to come together.” When asked about the two recent appointments to the Seneca Falls Town Board — Jones said “It’s the first time that I can recall, in a number of years that politics didn’t play a part in the decisions that were made.”Last week, Annette Lutz and Mary Sarratori were named to the Seneca Falls Town Board in unanimous votes by the three board members who remained after the sudden resignations of Jim Ricci and Chad Sanderson.Jones and Camera also said that from their perspective — Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro was “listening to the people,” which made them believe that the community made the right choice by electing him last November. Check out the full-interview in the video above. Inside the FLX is available on FingerLakes1.TV and will air this Sunday at 7 pm on Time Warner Cable Channel 12.

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