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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, July 2, 2009
By Anne Hayden
GUILDERLAND Just six days after the expansion of the Rapp Road landfill was officially approved, Guilderland is considering pulling out of the consortium of municipalities that uses the dump; it plans to bring its waste to the town of Colonie instead of the Rapp Road landfill.
Supervisor Kenneth Runion told The Enterprise yesterday, shortly after meeting with Colonie officials, that he has been against the landfill expansion into the Pine Bush Preserve since Day One. Runion is not the only one; back in May, Councilman Warren Redlich publicly voiced his opposition at a town board meeting, proving that dissatisfaction with the expansion plan is not split along party lines.
“Guilderland is against the expansion, from an environmental point of view, and remaining in the ANSWERS program just wouldn’t be correct,” Runion said. ANSWERS stands for Albany NY Solid Waste Energy Recovery System and includes 13 municipalities including New Scotland, Altamont, Berne, Westerlo, Voorheesville, Rensselaerville, and Knox was well as Guilderland. The consortium is now called the Capital Region Solid Waste Management Partners, and uses a landfill on Rapp Road, owned by the city of Albany.
The landfill, which opened in 1981, has expanded four times. A fifth expansion was given the green light last week by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
The expansion has been controversial because the landfill runs along the Pine Bush Preserve, home to the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly; environmentalists are concerned the expansion will destroy the fragile habitat.
Albany, which makes money on the dump, has accepted garbage from private haulers as space fills up. It has explored moving its landfill to Coeyman’s but has faced community opposition and possible wetlands on the site.
The DEC has claimed that each expansion since the first one would be the last.
The town of Colonie has also disapproved of the expansion because of its proximity to the village of Colonie residents have complained for years of bad smells coming from the dump. The town has its own landfill, and it is an open-market facility, said landfill director Joseph Stockbridge. The landfill, which has been in operation since the 1960s, currently has contracts with Troy and Cohoes; Cohoes used to be a member of the ANSWERS program.
After learning that, on June 25, the DEC had approved the Rapp Road landfill expansion plan, Runion said he reached out to the town of Colonie, requesting a meeting, during which a proposal was drawn up.
According to Runion, the agreement would allow Guilderland to bring garbage directly to the Colonie landfill, at a rate of $55 per ton for household waste, and $60 per ton for construction and demolition debris. Guilderland typically generates about 1,500 tons of each type of waste every year, said Runion.
Although there would be a slight difference in transportation cost, the total amount spent on waste disposal each year would be roughly the same as it is with the Rapp Road program, Runion said.
Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan said that, if calls are received from municipalities regarding landfill agreements, they are dealt with just like any other customer.
“Whether or not we are receptive depends on how we can handle tonnage, and it has been determined we have space for the amount Guilderland would generate,” said Mahan.
According to Stockbridge, the Colonie landfill can accept 170,500 tons per year, and this year is expected to hit 160,000 to 165,000 tons.
“I think our landfill appeals to other municipalities because we have longevity; we have at least a 10-year life, and we can provide stability,” Stockbridge said.
The contract between Guilderland and Colonie would be four years, based on tonnage. The proposal has been drawn up, and will be presented before the town board on July 7. If it is approved, it will be put in front of the Colonie Town Board on July 16.