Brookhaven locals decry landfill proposal
Published: March 6, 2012 7:40 PM
By SOPHIA CHANG

The possibility of expanding the Yaphank landfill drew the ire of residents at a Brookhaven Community Coalition meeting this week.  Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko floated the idea last month at a meeting with coalition leaders, when he said the town would face financial ruin without more revenue, and the landfill was the town's best hope for income.

"We were told the town was headed towards bankruptcy" without the $45 million annual landfill revenue, said Adrienne Esposito, who attended the Lesko meeting and updated coalition members Monday night at a gathering at the Brookhaven Fire House.

Last year, Lesko said the landfill, which is projected to reach capacity in 17 years, would be closed "eventually." His suggestion last month to expand the landfill reflected the town's need to plug a budget hole that could be $6 million to $10 million next year. But some residents demanded the immediate closure of the landfill, which for years neighbors have blamed for odors and dust. "You're looking at the destruction of the southern part of the town," said town resident Jeremiah McGiff.  Esposito said immediate closure was unlikely and suggested a unified response to Lesko's recommendations. "We need to be able to respond to this," she said.

MaryAnn Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, said she thought the town was trying to distract residents when Lesko created the coalition last year.  "They've quieted down dissent," Johnston said, suggesting Brookhaven's budget problems were Lesko's responsibility. "He's telling you he's got a budget, and you have to figure it [the problems] out."

Another tactic, Esposito said, was to lobby the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"We're not going after the town," she said. "We're going after the DEC because they are supposed to be stewards of our land and water."  The group concluded that they oppose any extension of the landfill's life. "That thing can grow infinitely," Esposito said after looking at aerial photos of the landfill site. "It's getting worse. It's not getting better."