Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Town Board Chooses $ over Health

Town Board Chooses $ over Health and Welfare of Community

Don't Dump on Me
The Brookhaven Town Board voted Tuesday to extend the the life of the Brookhaven land up to 20 more years, continuing 40 years of broken promises and lies.

 In a move that affects the quality of life and health of thousands of  residents of Yaphank, Brookhaven, Bellport and Medford, the Board callously voted to request the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to approve a modification  to the Town's landfill permit allowing an additional fifty feet in height.  Only Councilperson Connie Keppert voted against the proposal.  The landfill is in Ms. Keppert's district.

The action was taken, according to Town officials, to increase revenue to the Town and avoid raising taxes.  The landfill is used by municipalities throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties for the disposal of ash and construction debris. 

According to testimony at the Board hearing, a Town waste disposal surtax averaging just $20 per year per household would more than compensate for the additional income that would accrue.  Instead, thousands of residents of south Brookhaven are burdened with offensive odors, dust, and water pollution—a burden not born by residents in other sections of the Town (or elsewhere on Long Island for that matter).  "Everyone in the town benefits from the landfill financially, but only a few suffer," said Adrienne Esposito of the Brookhaven Community Coalition. 

Community members addres the Town Board
Community members address the Board
Supervisor Mark Lesko (D) repeatedly emphasized that  his primary responsibility was as chief fiscal officer of the Town.  While occasionally indicating that he was concerned about the health and welfare of Town residents, it was clear to most participates that his first priority was no additional taxes even if it meant that some had to suffer. 

Several residents indicated that the landfill fees had enabled the election of politicians for years; the Town politicians are like those with a drug addiction; it was time for them to go into rehab.  Unfortunately, like many with addictions, they have not recognized this.

Loony Math

Several residents pointed out that the Town had repeatedly lied to residents.  In 2002, Town officials had indicated that the landfill only had 17 years left  Now, ten years later, with mountains of trash deposited, Town official indicated that there was still seventeen years of life to the landfill, even without the additional 50 feet.  . Did the Town have some magical means of beaming trash to the moon?

Town officials also admitted that the additional 50 feet would have no immediate impact on revenue, as it would take over a year to prepare the site.  The principal effect, it seems, would be to extend the life of the landfill for another two years.

Brookhaven Town Employees
Brookhaven Town landfill employees
The Town resolution also is requesting that the State Department of Environmental Conservation approve a change to the landfill permit to allow deposits be calculated as an annual moving average.  This would mean that during periods when landfill deposits are below the current permit levels, such as has occurred during the recession, , they could be increased in subsequent years to make up for the deficit.

Is the DEC an Enabler?

Unfortunately, the State Department of Environmental Conservation may be more of an enabler than a healer.  Rather than enforcing the law and ordering the Town to establish a firm date to close the landfill, it's history seems to be that of allowing the Town politicians to continue to punt down the field.

No Plans for a Phase-out

It was also clear that the the Town had no plans. or even a road map, for the inevitable closure of the landfill.  Since there are apparently no engineering reasons why the capacity of the landfill cannot be further expanded in the future, they seem to be counting on short public memories which will allow them the continued rape of the community and our environment.

Other resources:

Newday Article
Long Island (Patchogue) Advance story
Brookhaven Community Coalition, a diverse partnership of stakeholder organizations who strive to safeguard and enhance our communities quality of life. Originally formed in March 2011 as the Stop the Sludge (STS) Coalition to stop bio-solid wastewater sludge from being further disposed of at the Town of Brookhaven Landfill. its mission has expanded to concentrate on other issues that are affecting our neighborhoods' health and safety. 


Booknut said...

This is right on the money. The Town has been offered several viable options that would allow them to make the revenue they need, while satisfying the residents' reasonable demands that the landfill be closed. They will not even consider any other option than the one they thought of BEFORE the last time the LLC met. I thought we lived in a democarcy. There has been nothing Democratic about this process.

4th District Grandpa said...

I received today in the mail a newsletter from councilwoman Kepert. While Tuesday's Town Board meeting would have been too late for her to report on it in her newsletter, she makes no mention whats-so-ever of the Landfill. Since this is arguably the most important issue for the 4th district, it makes me wonder if Kepert is a strong advocate for our district. She was not able to garner a single supporting vote at the Town Board meeting.