It was another night spent on defense by Geneva City Council, as they received another round of verbal lashings from concerned residents about the status and future of the Geneva Foundry cleanup.
For some speakers on both sides of the issue, the new rule adopted recently, which prevents speakers from naming any councilor specifically was difficult to navigate around.
Councilor Gordon Eddington was once again a focal point of some speakers comments, as they questioned the credibility and accountability exhibited thus far.
Speakers ranged in age and background, showcasing the diversity that Geneva features.
City Council has increased efforts to provide residents with updates at the beginning of meetings on the foundry.
Among the concerns raised at the meeting included the status of renters, and how they would need to proceed. “We lived, gardened and played in that poison,” one speaker said. “Will landlords be forced to compensate?”
The complications around this issue — in particular who will be held responsible, both financially and environmentally — seem to be growing by the day.
Residents though are not giving up the fight.
“Business owners are suffering,” another speaker added. She talked about the loss encountered throughout this process.
Not only are businesses suffering, but the community is dividing.
John Hicks, former Ontario County Administrator, who spent time with the DEC in the late-90s — defended the Councilor Eddington. He said that the “unethical and unfair” accusations that have been thrown at individual councilors prevented him from remaining silent.
Hicks defended Council, in particular, Councilor Eddington for his efforts while he was employed by the City of Geneva.
Other speakers came down in the middle.
“Things should have been done. I think we all know that. But I think people need to get their heads in a clear space,” explained Mario Fratto, who said he landed somewhere in the middle on this issue. “I heard some people I agreed with, and some great ideas, but some others that I didn’t.”
Fratto continued, “I think some people are just trying to fan the flames.”
It was an opinion clearly embraced by those in the audience, as his remarks received applause.
There’s work to be done, though.
As many speakers pointed out, solving the problems present in the City of Geneva, surrounding the foundry and handling of that situation are of the utmost importance.
“Trust has been broken. It’s about accountability,” concluded Geneva resident Jackie Augustine.
Residents say they want to understand the process that led Geneva to this point.
City Manager Matt Horn said that the City will continue working to get residents questions answered more quickly, and also continue working to push information from the DEC to residents as fast as possible.
He noted that it would take time to generate the large scale solutions that many in the community are hoping to see soon.
Horn says that the answers will come, and the solutions will come from the community. He applauded the city staff for their efforts throughout the process so far.