Romaine meets with Brookhaven Community Coalition

 

NOV. 22, 2012 - THE LONG ISLAND ADVANCE

BY CHUCK ANDERSON 

On Monday, Nov. 19, Brookhaven Supervisor- elect Ed Romaine met with members of the Brookhaven Community Coalition to present his position on the town landfill and composting concerns. “After the recent storm, Long Island has become the center of the solid waste universe,” he told the crowd. “When I take office, I have to look into the law as to how the town wound up with a landfill started by New York State. There are many issues regarding the landfill ll. When I was running for the office of supervisor, I said I would not pursue the idea of raising the height of the landfill.” Romaine got applause for that comment. 

Romaine said he was very interested in minimizing the impact of the landfill ll. “And I am most certainly not interested in accepting sludge from New York City,” he added. “The problem is that the town has spent much more money than it has taken in. We can’t spend what we don’t have, can’t engage in deficit spending and bonding out most of our spending. Having the town rely on the landfill is fiscally unsound.” He went on to speak about the proposed budget, noting that many people have been fired, services were diminished, non-essential services were cut, as well as positions in the supervisor’s office. “The essential functions of government have been severely compromised,” he said. Touching on the problem of composting, he said, “I am not in favor of large-scale composting.” Romaine went on to discuss the impact of Sandy and the subsequent storm. “Mastic Beach is a disaster area, and Fire Island is worse,” he said. “We have three new inlets, which are affecting the ecology of the bay. 

We are going to look into what LIPA did right, and what they did wrong. This applies to the town and fire rescue and emergency services as well. The wires should have been buried a long time ago. We need a capital program to bury our wires in key areas. The brush and trees from the storm are winding up in the landfill. “Incidentally, the state has just finished mulching material from Hurricane Gloria. There are plans to ship debris from the storm by Brookhaven Rail Terminal trains to upstate sites, as well as adding debris from the storm to Cell 6 of the landfill, and bulldoze it down the side of the hill,” said Romaine. 

A resident asked a question: “If the landfill closes, how will the town handle its deficit?” “We should have a regional landfill,” Romaine answered. “The state will not let us expand this landfill, so we should be exploring alternatives. After we close the landfill, there will be residual expenses. We have lived off the fat of the land for too many years. We have spent money we did not have, like a kid with a credit card. The residents do not realize how deep are the fiscal problems. Twenty-five percent of the town’s budget goes to debt service.” 

Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito commented that the town requested exceeding the normal tonnage at the landfill due to Sandy. “It is evident that there is a solid waste crisis on Long Island, and we can’t separate the debris in the hardest-hit areas,” she said. “The town has asked the Department of Environmental Conservation for a temporary, 25-foot height increase at the landfill to handle extra tonnage. This request is still under discussion.”

Esposito pointed out there were staging areas for the storm debris all over the island, but there were discrepancies between what Long Island is permitted to do and what they are actually doing. Other towns had landfills. They closed them, and balanced their budgets, she pointed out. A resident asked about the extra smoke and ash in the air recently. “They are going to be burning at the landfill 24/7,” said Brookhaven Community Coalition board member Michael Verni. “They got state permission to do this.” Esposito added that the Brookhaven Rail Terminal has a one-month window