The Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) board last Monday acknowledged that it was compiling a list of potential sites for a new landfill that wasn’t expected to be revealed until later in the year. During a meeting of the Ulster’s town board three days later, councilmen sent a clear message to the agency: Look elsewhere than Ulster.
Though they don’t have the legal authority to keep the UCRRA from coming to the town, councilmen are preparing a memorializing resolution expressing their opposition at their next meeting on Thursday, October 21.
“I would ask for a motion to authorize the town attorney to prepare a resolution memorializing the Town of Ulster’s opposition to the siting of a municipal landfill by Ulster County RRA or any other party in the Town of Ulster,” said Ulster supervisor James E. Quigley.
The UCRRA recently commissioned a study of potential landfill sites of at least 200 acres in the hopes of finding a permanent solution to the agency’s current practice of dealing with the roughly 100,000 tons of solid waste generated across the county each year. Currently, the UCRRA spends around $9 million per year to haul that waste to Seneca Meadows, a landfill near Syracuse that’s scheduled to close in 2025. The agency estimates it will cost around $50 million to create its own landfill.
During a meeting on October 3, UCRRA chairwoman Katherine Beinkafner said it was important to prevent the list of potential landfill sites from leaking before it’s completed. Acknowledging that such a list is being compiled, however, is already causing opposition in the Town of Ulster.
“I’d like to make it clear that we really don’t want a landfill in the Town of Ulster,” said deputy supervisor John Morrow.
In voicing opposition to siting a landfill in the town, some Ulster councilmen pointed to a small UCRRA composting facility on Flatbush Road where up to 2500 tons of food waste are processed. Some neighbors of the facility from as much as a mile away have taken issue with odors emanating from the storing and processing of the food waste.
“We’re tired of it,” said councilam Rocco Secreto. “Living in East Kingston, we still get the smell. We don’t need more of it.”
Councilman Clayton Van Kleeck added that it was time the agency consider another option because the UCRRA’s headquarters and a waste transfer center are already located in the town. “This town has been handling the garbage for this county for as long as I remember,” Van Kleeck said. “And I think it’s time for improving on their solution, which does not include dumping on the Town of Ulster.”
Morrow said that the town would not be a good choice because of the potential for water contamination. “The Town of Ulster tends to be one of the low-lying towns, and it’s very, very wet in this town,” Morrow argued. “We have the Hudson River. We have all the various streams. We have the Esopus Creek. The ground is saturated in much of the town. The last thing we need is a landfill seeping into the water.”
Quigley listed numerous neighborhoods across the town and cited a variety of reasons why none would be a good fit for a landfill. “When you look around the town, there are no locations,” Quigley said. “So therefore I would agree with my fellow board members. It’s time we stop getting dumped on and protect what we have.”