If you live in the city of Albany you put your trash by the end of the driveway or at the curb on a certain day. That is the last you think of it until you put the empty cans away when you get home from work. What happens to the trash in between is that it goes to an aging, almost full to capacity landfill.
The Rapp Road landfill has been located in the western part of the city in a ecologically sensitive area known as the Pine Bush for as long as I can remember. It has also been an eyesore for travelers heading east towards Albany around exit 24 of the NYS Thruway. Approaching the city the landfill is the first thing travelers see before exiting. Even when the landfill is finally put to closure, that mountain of trash will still loom to the left.
Last Monday night the Albany Common Council voted narrowly to provide $9.3 million in funding to expand the landfill $7 million of those funds will go to the expansion; the remaining $2.3 million is for a state mandated restoration of lands of the Pine Bush surrounding the landfill. The landfill currently reaps approximately $11 million in revenue from the landfill mostly from tipping fees from outside trash haulers.
The vote for the funding of the landfill was not without dissent. As it stands now with the expansion, the landfill would be at capacity by the year 2021. Wanna be mayor Frank Commisso addressing some 65 DGS workers who would be facing layoffs if the funding didn’t come through said, “Was that a great deal? No.” Commisso was referring to Mayor Jerry Jennings’ proposed $2 dollar per ton set aside from the $50.50 per ton it costs outside trash haulers to use the landfill. The assessment would provide funding in cash to be used for landfill expenses.
While the expansion will probably take place this summer, council member James Sano hit the nail right on the head. He said that it would buy the city some time to find a solution to its waste disposal problems. Here is the major problem with that: The city better be looking real hard, right now on a location for a new landfill. Do you remember Mr. Mayor and fellow lawmakers when the city proposed to site a new landfill in the Ravena-Coeymans area some years ago? It turned out the area residents circled the wagons in opposition. A land owner would probably sell in a heartbeat seeing a windfall. It’s the surrounding townspeople who will be up in arms. A landfill is dirty, noisy and would create more new truck traffic. You also can’t overlook the smell. No matter what means you use, you cannot get rid of the smell.
Although the design of a landfill could easily be managed within a year, the steps you have to take to get there are enormous. First you have to find a site. Then you develop an Environmental Impact Study. There are endless town meetings. You have to gain the approval of various environmental groups which manage wetlands areas. Then you have to get permitted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. This could easily take the better part of ten years. Those steps are manageable. Finding the site is not.
I hope that the city is at least thinking about this problem. Maybe they have a committee in the works studying the situation. The problem is real, and as the trash continues to pile up on Rapp Road, and trust me; there is no way another expansion to the existing landfill will take place. New state of the art landfills are expensive to construct and even more expensive to maintain. Dollars are usually available from the federal and state governments to build and close landfills. That also must be part of the equation. This being an election year, someone might better put the landfill on the list of issues. Rapp Road is going to be done in 2021.
And that is “The Daily Take”