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Protesters rally in Geneva against landfilling

Hundreds of Finger Lakes residents gathered in Geneva to protest a familiar issue for those living in the region. Landfilling in Ontario and Seneca counties has maintained itself as one of the biggest issues in the region and with the turnout seen on Saturday – the voices of opposition are getting louder.In a march against imported garbage from outside the area, which started at the corner of South Exchange Street and Elizabeth Blackwell Street, moved along the lake behind the Ramada Inn, and ended at Bicentennial Park with a rally hosting multiple speakers.Inspired by the march and rally held in Seneca Falls in March, which was organized by former Mayor Brad Jones – the “Geneva March Against Big Garbage and Trash Trains” was put together by a coalition of local organizations, including Finger Lakes Zero Waste, the Concerned Citizens of Seneca County, and several others. Finger Lakes Zero Waste led the organizational pack putting in weeks of preparation leading up to the march through Geneva.Darrin Magee, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, who teaches a class called the “Geography of Garbage” was the first speaker at the Bicentennial Park rally. He argued many of the points, those in the region have become familiar with, but also pointed to some of the geographical issues with landfilling in the Finger Lakes. He explained that the region has become a “dumping ground” for garbage in the northeast. Seneca Falls Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro was the second speaker and pointed to the incredible number of people that have reached out to him since he was elected in November. “No more trash,” he explained that just going to the store for a couple of items can turn into a lengthy endeavor – as countless residents from the region stop him to make their case against landfilling in the Finger Lakes. “I don’t hear anyone saying anything but that,” he continued – referring to that overwhelming outcry against landfilling in the region.Once again, though, the rally was highlighted by a youthful engagement, which was celebrated at the first protest held in Seneca Falls. Thomas Tierney, founder and president of Geneva High School Green Club spoke at length about his experience growing up in Geneva between the two of the largest landfills in the northeast.Leeland Henry, the vice president of the Concerned Citizens of Seneca County, recited his own rendition of the “Mad as Hell” monologue from the 1976 classic Network. “Who will want to live here? Worse yet, who will want to locate here?” he asked the crowd. He closed by saying, “We’re mad. We’re mad as hell. And we’re not going to take it anymore.”The final speaker at the rally was Geneva’s 4th Ward City Councilman Ken Camera. He spoke at length about the politics behind landfills like Seneca Meadows and the Ontario County landfill, which is operated by Casella Waste. “Government officials in New York have been asleep at the wheel,” he proclaimed to those in attendance. Even after being interrupted by an individual protesting the march – he responded by proclaiming that the next representative of the 54th Senate District – “must have an environmental agenda that puts the people first,” throughout the Finger Lakes.In response to the protest and rally held in Geneva – Seneca Meadows released a statement, which read:”We salute the Finger Lakes Railway, and the development of their Auburn Road Terminal at the Seneca Meadows Renewable Resource Park. Statistics show the safest way to move materials is by rail. We hope to participate in the movement of waste by rail, which will take trucks off of local roads, reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent, and create good-paying, local jobs. Seneca Meadows supports positive, responsible progress in our community.”Check out the entire rally in the video above and let us know what you think about the landfill issue in the comment section below.

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