Seneca Falls Town Board hears 60 speak on landfill

On Tuesday, more than 60 spoke to the Seneca Falls Town Board to address landfilling in the Finger Lakes.Specifically, the subject was Seneca Meadows. Dozens spoke to both sides of the landfilling issue, which has become a staple of board meetings in the Town of Seneca Falls. Residents from around the Finger Lakes, speakers, and individuals on both sides of the issue brought signs, wore colors to signify their solidarity, and delivered messages of hope, concern, and sincerity. Employees spoke to their ability to provide for their families, as well as the burden that would be put on Seneca County – if Seneca Meadows closes in the near-future. Business partners of Seneca Meadows also spoke, from around the region and state – describing how adversely they would be impacted if the landfill were shut down.Karen Rothfuss, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Seneca County talked about the impact money from Seneca Meadows has on communities like Seneca Falls. End dependence on the landfill, she continued. “The time to stop it is now.”A politics professor from Ithaca College, as well as a professor from Hobart & William Smith Colleges addressed the board on Tuesday. Rose Supervisor Keenan Baldridge also addressed the board. Baldridge is a candidate for New York State Senate in the 54th District. He likened the landfill to a parking lot for waste. “We park it there for our grandchildren to worry about,” he explained to the board and those in attendance.Another familiar speaker, Michael Warren Thomas took a different approach on Tuesday. He addressed the employees of Seneca Meadows, explaining that the fight is not personal – adding that many of them would be able to find jobs in the solar industry, should Seneca Meadows close. “There is probably no way to avoid the feeling that this debate is personal – that all the thousands of anti-landfill advocates are trying to take your jobs away. I regret that, but I believe that all of the Seneca Meadows employees have a bright future in the region,” Thomas explained.Will Ouweleen, founding secretary of the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition also spoke to employees of Seneca Meadows. He said, “We are all residents of the Finger Lakes.” He went on to encourage peace between all parties involved – even amid differences of opinion on the issue of landfilling.Jeff Shipley, the President of the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce defended the landfill, pointing out that no single business or industry should be singled-out. He also said that a law such as Local Law #7 would send the message that “Seneca County is decidedly not open for business.” Shipley stood on his years of marketing the region, as reason why he believes Seneca Meadows and the rest of the industries throughout the Finger Lakes can thrive together.Seneca Meadows District Manager Kyle Black gave the board and those in attendance an update on odor control. He said after the meeting that, “Tonight’s show of support for Seneca Meadows clearly demonstrates the value that our company brings to our local economy, and the devastation to businesses and families that would ensue should we be closed prematurely. We trust that the Board will act accordingly, and that our company will have the opportunity to continue a transparent and cooperative relationship with council members and our community.”Seneca Falls resident Barbara Reese spoke to the minimal amount of trash being contributed by Seneca Falls and Seneca County to the Seneca Meadows landfill. “What is our plan,” she asked the board. Many landfill opponents reiterated that point throughout the evening. The plan many refer to is the financial steps the Town of Seneca Falls would undoubtedly need to follow, if Seneca Meadows ceased operating.Others like Joanne Elliot, a Seneca Falls resident spoke to the way many in the community felt when the board proposed Local Law #7. “Your initial actions and the introduction of the Local Law resonated with the people that you represent,” Elliot explained to the board. “We implore you to take a stand now and not to pass this massive burden off to a future board and their constituents.”Speaking to the financial impact of a Seneca Meadows closure Elliot continued, “Revenue loss is of paramount importance for everyone. There are citizens actively involved in finding ways to offset the landfill revenue, too.” Speaking to the optimism she has for the current board in Seneca Falls Elliot remarked “I believe in this board’s capabilities and leadership in paving the way to break the bonds that bind us to the disgusting, embarrassing landmark that will forever define the Northern Gateway to the Finger Lakes.”Many landfill employees spoke to the practices at Seneca Meadows, which make it a leader in the industry – as well as in the entire U.S. in terms of safety, and protecting the community. However, Dr. Joseph Campbell, President of Gas Free Seneca reminded those in attendance that “Nothing made by humans lasts forever.” Referring to the possibility of a liner failing – Campbell asserted “It’s a question of when, not if. And when this one fails, what happens when the plume of toxic, carcinogenic compounds contaminates the groundwater and Seneca Lake?”Perhaps the message of landfilling opponents was summed up best by the words used Michael Warren Thomas to close his message to the board: “65 million people live within a day’s drive of the Finger Lakes – let’s have them bring their money rather than just send their trash.