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Regional Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 28, 2006

Eastward, ho!
Garbage expands between a rock and a hard place

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALBANY COUNTY — The Rapp Road landfill is set to expand, after the third incarnation of a plan to add acreage to the site.

The proposal is expected to add eight years to the life of the landfill, which serves 11 municipalities in Albany County. The plan is the result of what Albany’s mayor, Jerry Jennings, introduced last November, said Michael O’Brien, an Albany Common Council member who chairs the General Services Committee.

Original plans to expand to the west were scrapped in favor of the east, even though the price tag for moving the facilities currently located there is estimated at $2 million, planners said at a Common Council meeting on Sept. 19. The city owns 10 acres of land on the western side of the landfill, although it is pristine Pine Bush, which had been part of the earlier proposal. Adding to the landfill from the east means moving the transfer facility and possibly the recycling facility, which are currently located in the area.

"Even though this alternative would cost millions more, we think it’s worth the investment," said Bill Bruce, commissioner of the Albany Department of General Services.

There are two options to the east, Bruce said. One would take 2.75 additional acres and the other would take six – the difference being whether or not Fred Simon would sell his property, a four-acre parcel that he lives on near the entrance to the landfill, said Bruce. Simon could not be reached for comment.

Adding land to the north, where a trailer park, Fox Run Estates, is located, had also been discussed. Yesterday, though, Bruce said, "That’s off the table." The city of Albany bought the trailer park, which sits on one section of a 60-acre parcel of the Pine Bush, in the early 1990’s, O’Brien said. Although there are still 10 homes located on the property, the city dedicated the land to the Pine Bush Preserve this year, according to O’Brien. One of the tenants has a "life estate" while the others have leases until 2015, according to Bruce.

The second machination of the expansion plan, proposed in June, involved undedicating a portion of land that had been dedicated to the Pine Bush Preserve and adding it to the landfill. The major concern with that proposal, said Chris Hawver, executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Preservation Commission, was that it would set a precedent and create a template for undedicating land. "Dedication is a legal act. Like forever wild," he said. "It’s the Pine Bush’s version of forever wild."

Bruce said yesterday that he hopes to have the application for the new eastern expansion plan completed by mid-February and have a decision on the plan by the beginning of 2008. O’Brien said, "The dream would be getting approval a year from now."

Discussion at the Sept. 19 meeting focused too much on expanding the landfill instead of looking for alternatives that would curb the volume of waste going into it, said Lynne Jackson, a spokesperson for the watchdog group, Save the Pine Bush. "Garbage is a multi-faceted problem," she said. "There’s not one single solution."

Looking at what makes up the garbage and developing ways to dispose of things differently is one suggestion Jackson made.
Food waste, for example. "When I was a little kid, the city collected food scraps separately," O’Brien said. The scraps that were collected were sold to local pig farmers, he said.

While neither Jackson nor O’Brien proposed that Albany’s food waste should go to pig farmers, they both suggested that a similar idea could work in the 21st Century. Jackson applauded the city for its collection and composting of leaves and grass clippings and said that she’d like to see a program like that for food waste; composting on a municipal scale. Similarly, O’Brien cited Germany, which has a large-scale composting system, but, he also said that it works "only if there’s an economy of scale."

Each member municipality pays a tipping fee to Albany for use of the landfill; revenue from the landfill totaled approximately $10.8 million last year, according to Albany’s comptroller, Thomas Nitido. Property taxes in the city would go up 23 to 25 percent without that income, he said.

"The whole thing is between a rock and a hard place," O’Brien said.

Five arrested for growing cannabis

ALBANY COUNTY — Five local men were arrested on Wednesday for growing 20 marijuana plants in their Albany home.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Department Drug Interdiction Unit acted, along with Albany city detectives, on a tip from a confidential informant that the men were growing marijuana at their 463 Washington Ave. home.

Inside the building police found 20 marijuana plants growing in three separate rooms of the basement, along with grow lamps, various growing materials, Ziplock Baggies, weighing scales, and throwing stars, which can be used as weapons, according to the sheriff’s report.

Aaron Kennedy, 19, a public safety officer for the city of Albany; Kevin Fallon, 20, a laborer at Sherman Specialty Company in Guilderland; Peter Phillips, 20, a cook for the Gingerman Restaurant in Albany; Andre Casale, 19, a clerk at a Mobile gas station in Colonie; and Brendan Allardice, 19, a clerk at the Madison Theater in Albany, were each arrested for second-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a felony, and unlawfully growing cannabis without a license, a misdemeanor, the report says.

According to the sheriff’s department, Kennedy was suspended by Albany Police Chief James Tuffey immediately following the arrest.

All five were arraigned by Albany Police Court Justice Margaret Adkins and were remanded into Albany County’s jail on $5,000 bail, the report says.

— Jarrett Carroll

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