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Wayne Post
  • Landfill or no landfill?

  • In March, local developer Joseph Alloco, owner of Arcadia Hills, LLC approached the Town Board about purchasing the 161-acre parcel owned the by the town where the former landfill is located on Route 88 outside of Fairville, proposing the development of a new solid waste management facility on the site.

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  • It’s a once beautiful landscape now marred with trees littered with trash, abandoned homes sitting empty with forgotten for sale signs still posted out front, so much dust and debris on growing fruits and vegetables local stores won’t buy them, potholes along roadways from high volumes of truck traffic that have made traveling through the village tedious — this is what Matt Ury envisions if a landfill comes to Arcadia.
    “People are scared,” Ury said. “People are losing sleep over this. They’re afraid their voices won’t be heard.”
    In March, local developer Joseph Alloco, owner of Arcadia Hills, LLC approached the Town Board about purchasing the 161-acre parcel owned the by the town where the former landfill is located on Route 88 outside of Fairville, proposing the development of a new solid waste management facility on the site.
    “This is not some big corporation,” Alloco said. “This is my idea. If I thought this would bring any harm to anybody, I wouldn’t do it.”
    Ury lives about a mile and a half away from the proposed landfill and his gut reaction was “not in my backyard.” Then he started doing the research, but instead of alleviating his fears, he saw the magnitude of what the facility would mean to the community. Now he is leading the charge against the proposal with more than 900 signatures on a petition opposing the landfill. There are three landfills within 20 miles of Newark, he said, each operating with permits good through 2050, each collecting green energy.
    “I can’t imagine why anyone would want a landfill in our beautiful community,” Ury said. “We believe there’s no social need for a landfill. It would be irresponsible to add another facility.”
    Proponents of the proposal point to the monetary benefits the landfill offers — a much-needed financial boon for the town and village. Beyond the purchase of the land for its full appraisal value of $1.18 million, which places the property back on the tax rolls, Alloco also has committed himself in the proposal to providing a variety of host community benefits, including the payment of fees estimated at more $25 million over the projected 17-year life of the new facility. Benefits would be received by the town, the village of Newark, and educational scholarship fund, and the Fairville, Marbletown and Newark volunteer fire departments. The proposal would also include an indemnity clause relieving the town of any responsibility environmentally as well as from the obligation to maintain and monitor the closed municipal landfill.
    “There is no guarantee there will be a tax break,” Ury said. “But the negatives are guaranteed.”
    Donning T-shirts proclaiming “We support Arcadia Hills” or demanding “No landfill”, some 200 residents gathered in the Newark High School auditorium to share their opinions and their concerns last Tuesday night.
    Page 2 of 3 - Russ Watson lost his job 5 years ago and now, despite his degrees, he is working as a teaching assistant in Geneva. Money is tight for his family and taxes only keep going up, he said.
    “I know it’s not all about money,” Watson said at the meeting. “But when you lose your job, it is all about money.”
    Mayor Peter Blandino offered his support of the town board’s action to explore the proposal in light of the revenue shortfalls both the town and village face every budget season — shortfalls that grow increasingly difficult to bridge.
    Jessica Bryant believes Newark is lucky to have such an opportunity as that which the proposal offers. A Newark High School class of 2002 graduate, Bryant had to leave the area to pursue her law degree with the hope of returning some day to live and work. Today, she has achieved her goal, but she recognizes the gravity of the financial struggles her hometown faces.
    “This is a wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to do business,” she said. “And to keep that, we need to build a stronger economy. It’s garbage — not a glamorous business.”
    Bryant has launched a Facebook page for those supporting the proposal — and there are several supporters, she said.
    “In the privacy of a voting booth, I think many of you here would be surprised by how many people who would vote in favor of the landfill,” she said.
    Longtime businessman and resident Frank Zappia said he has seen a lot of good opportunities come and go in Arcadia and this isn’t one the town should let go.
    “There are landfills all over,” he said. “Route 31F, they have $400,000 homes across from that landfill.”
    Naysayers to the proposal have expressed their concern for the environment. With Zurich Bog, a national natural landmark and home to an endangered plant species and a threatened animal species, a mere 968 yards from the proposed landfill site, questions regarding the landfill’s environmental impact on water supplies and air quality top the list.
    “No one can walk on the bog to pick up the litter the landfill doesn’t contain,” said local resident Peg Pelletier, who is a trustee with the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society which owns the Zurich Bog. “No harm is ever intended, but it’s the unintentional harm I’m most afraid of.”
    Thirty-year Arcadia resident Sue Yonda is worried about her property value, living within 2 miles of the landfill site.
    “Arcadia is gorgeous. That’s why I moved here, that’s why we raised two kids here, that’s why I’ve invested a lot of money into my house, that’s why I stay,” she said. “Who’s gonna want to buy my house with a dump 2 miles away? I love my house — don’t ruin it.”
    Page 3 of 3 - Ury said his group of opposers have one goal in mind — put the proposal up for a public vote and let the residents decide. Supervisor Dick Colacino said he is all for a public vote, but there are legal issues about allowing a referendum that the town’s attorney is now investigating.
    In the meantime, residents are being asked to keep an open mind.
    “We really need your help and we need you to keep an open mind about this,” Councilman Bruce Nielsen said. “The only thing that is going to solve this is if we keep talking to each other.”
    Colacino assures everyone there has been no decision made on the proposal. In order for the proposal to move forward, Alloco must initiate an environmental impact statement and have the current law prohibiting a landfill in the town of Arcadia repealed. Alloco said this is not a step he is ready to make at this time, as he continues to gather information from residents about their concerns.
    Share your opinion
    Facebook pages, “Say no to the Arcadia landfill” and “We Support the Arcadia Hills Landfill Proposal”, have been set on for both sides of the landfill argument where residents are welcome to voice their opinions and concerns.
    Anyone wishing to sign the petition opposing the landfill can add their name to the list at Bodine’s Southend Market. An electronic version of the petition is also available online at www.say-no-arcadia-landfill.com.
    Proponents from both sides urge residents to educate themselves through research so they can make an informed decision on the issue.

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