It’s no mystery why, every few years, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings keeps wanting to expand the capacity of the Rapp Road landfill. The city continues to reap a bonanza there—more than $13 million a year— by selling space to neighboring towns and private haulers. But the specter of layoffs and a large tax hike if the state Department of Environmental Conservation denies yet another expansion hardly justifies approving one. This folly has gone on long enough.
Permission for the last expansion—the landfill’s third, in 2000—was predicated on the city giving two parcels of land totaling 60 acres to the environmentally sensitive Pine Bush Preserve. However, that was never done, and now Jennings wants to use 20 of the acres to expand the landfill. Doing so would extend its life another five years past 2010, when it is currently expected to reach capacity.
Jennings acts as if the city has no choice. It can’t live without the money, which constitutes roughly 10 percent of its total revenue, unless it hikes taxes dramatically, lays offworkers, or both. And it hasn’t had much luck developing an alternative site for a landfill. While it has options on a 360-acre parcel in Coeymans, the town so far has managed to block the city’s effort to purchase the land. The city was even ordered in court to stop making payments on the options—but apparently did so, anyway— until it completes an environmental impact study. It has yet to do this.
The state should stop colluding with the city and force it to live up to its obligations —dedicating the land it promised to the Pine Bush and getting the EIS done on the Coeymans site. If it means having to take in less trash, and money, at Rapp Road, then so be it.
Its disingenuous of the mayor to act as if this problem hasn’t been around for years, and that his own policies aren’t what exacerbated it.