A little more than one hundred area residents gathered in Seneca Falls on Saturday to once again rally against solid municipal waste facilities like Seneca Meadows.
The rally featured Seneca Falls Central School District students, a professor from Hobart & William Smith Colleges, one elected representative of Seneca Falls and multiple candidates vying to represent parts of the region.
Mary Sarratori, a democrat, who was appointed by Seneca Falls Supervisor Greg Lazzaro to Seneca Falls Town Council earlier this year defined the difference between Local Law No. 3 of 1998, and the proposed local law, which has stirred up a lot of criticism.
“Words matter. Actions matter. There are some people that are saying that we already have a law on the books that will close the landfill,” she began.
Sarratori recited part of the local law, which was passed in 1998 and reads:
No person shall hereinafter construct or operate a sanitary landfill in the Town of Seneca Falls, New York, until a permit to construct and operate said sanitary landfill has first been obtained from the Town Board, Town of Seneca Falls, New York.”
“It has no standing or mention of closure,” she continued. “It has no enforcement in regards to not complying with regulations, and it was written over 18 years ago,” Sarratori explained to the crowd.
“The people that are touting this as an effective way to restrict the landfill are wrong and are misleading. Actions matter,” she summed up as she pointed out that the modified version of the proposed Local Law No. 7 addresses the concerns raised by those living in Seneca Falls.
Annette Lutz, also a Democrat, who also spoke at Saturday’s rally addressed the concerns that she is a one issue candidate. While she did not back down or back away from the landfill issue, she conceded that the first step for Seneca Falls is getting a solid law on the books to ensure that expansions at Seneca Meadows are not realized, in addition to preventing future landfills from operating within the Town’s limits.
Two of the three candidates seeking to represent the 54th District in New York State Senate spoke at the rally. Both Reform Party candidate Floyd Rayburn, as well as Rose Town Supervisor Kenan Baldridge, a Democratic nominee spoke about the impact landfills have on the Finger Lakes.
“Has anyone ever dug wells to test the water in areas around the landfill?” Rayburn asked. “Does anyone know what those at del Lago are going to think when the wind blows in that direction?” Rayburn spoke to the crowd for approximately eight minutes, describing the ways the region will be better suited on this issue if he is elected.
Baldridge reminded those in attendance that he had been present at multiple rallies and events on this issue. He called out his Republican opponent, Canandaigua Supervisor Pam Helming, who he accused of helping build a more dominant presence in Ontario County.
Both candidates took shots at Helming. However, organizers say that she was not invited because she had not taken a strong, clear stand on the landfilling issue.
In Thursday’s FingerLakes1.com New York State Senate debate, Helming did agree that the region has enough landfills and that an alternative plan needs to be set in place. However, she fell short of saying that she would use her power as senator to drive legislation stopping landfilling. Helming said that this type of legislation is up to individual municipalities and counties, who have the most-power.
This was the long-criticized stance of state representatives throughout the region, who have avoided involvement in the sometimes muddy issues of local politics.
Stephen Churchill, who serves on the Seneca County Board of Supervisors’ Environmental Affairs Committee, and represents Seneca Falls in one of the Town’s two at-large positions — made an emotional plea with those in attendance. At one point, Churchill even became choked up as he described the reason why he felt so many are passionate about this issue.
In a written statement to FingerLakes1.com, Kyle Black, district manager at Seneca Meadows said:
“For over 20 years, Seneca Meadows has maintained a spotless environmental record on both the federal and state level, and has worked cooperatively with regulatory agencies and local officials. Our team goes above and beyond to safeguard our environment and give back to our local police departments, fire departments, school programs and charitable organizations; and we will continue to operate with this high level of integrity.
Our odor control plan is diligently being implemented and community members are letting us know that they see it working. Weather pending, we hope to finish installing final cover on the western hill this fall, and will continue to upgrade and improve our controls to operate at maximum efficiency.”