April 18, 2015

Residents’ ash for trash concerns linger




Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The proposed ash for trash deal with Onondaga County has come to a standstill while residents are still concerned specifically with the environmental aspects of the deal.
Many county residents polled this week said they were unaware of the ash for trash deal and some referred to what they see as the “politics” of the issue as a reason residents did not want to get involved in it.
The ash for trash deal involves the county sending 25,000 tons of trash to the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency incinerator in exchange for 90,000 tons of ash yearly deposited at the Cortland County landfill.
Many people around the village of McGraw, which is about 5 miles from the landfill, were unaware of the ash for trash deal.
One resident who did know about the deal said that Cortland County should keep its trash in the county, and other counties should follow suit.
“I think our dump should be for our trash,” Debbie Burdick of McGraw said Thursday afternoon on Main Street. “I oppose it.”
She added she is a supporter of flow control which would require all trash generated in Cortland County be sent to the county landfill.
Burdick said she is also concerned about the environmental impacts of the ash and the trucking routes back and forth from Onondaga County.
Burdick also said at one time village officials and residents were concerned with people possibly getting cancer in the area because of their proximity to the landfill.
Solon resident Debra Thornton said Thursday afternoon on Main Street in McGraw that she did not know much about the deal, but she did not think any ash should be dumped in Cortland’s landfill.
“I don’t care what it is... let them keep it up there,” Thornton said.
City residents on Main Street Tuesday afternoon either were unaware or did not have enough information on the proposal to comment.
Alex Huntington-Ofner, 32, of Cortland, said Tuesday afternoon on Main Street in the city that she does not think there is enough information for Cortland County to make a final decision on the deal.
Huntington-Ofner said she would like to know what the environmental impacts are just so she knows what the county is getting itself into.
“It would be nice to know what the potential impacts are,” Huntington-Ofner said.
Both Cortland and Onondaga county legislatures have slowed down the process of reaching a decision until they both issue and approve a findings statement. A findings statement will explain why the county accepted last month the environmental study of the proposed ash for trash deal with Onondaga County. The findings statement is expected to be passed in June.
Chris Dayton, 51 and also a city resident, said while walking into the post office on Main Street he is not worried about the deal. He thinks the ash could be safe and that some residents may have “overblown” the concerns.
“I think people make a lot more out of things,” Dayton said.
Cortland resident Helen Hart, on the other hand, said Cortland County does not need the deal and she is worried about the environmental impacts the ash could have on the residents.
“I think it should go up to vote for the people (to decide),” Hart, 92, said Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s safe.”
Living in Cortland all her life, she added she does not understand why legislators think this would be a good solution to the landfill problems in the county.
Some legislators have already opposed the ash for trash deal, saying more information is needed regarding the environmental impacts of theproposal.
Some resident have requested legislators hold a public hearing on the final Environmental Impact Statement, but the document is already finalized and a public hearing is not required.
Legislature Chairperson Susan Briggs (R-Cortlandville) has said in previous interviews with the Cortland Standard that now that the environmental documents are finished, the Legislature can focus on the contract negotiations to ensure they get the best financial deal for the county.

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