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Albany To Consider Its Waste Management Future As Landfill Nears Capacity

City of Albany

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has announced a series of Solid Waste Management Plan Community Meetings, as the city landfill nears capacity.

Based on current inputs, officials say the city’s Rapp Road landfill will reach maximum capacity by January 2023. 

In search of community input (and perhaps reaction), four events have been scheduled to give residents the opportunity to meet with Department of General Services officials, obtain information regarding the current state of solid waste management in Albany, and to provide input on the next steps of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan. Mayor Sheehan says it is important residents have a good solid background and history of the process...  "...how we do it, the steps that we take, the costs associated with it. And so, as we plan for a future without our landfill, we thought it was really important that we start by providing a common understanding of how solid waste management works in the city, what it costs, and then to talk about what some possibilities are, by looking at what's happening in other communities across the state and how it's done in other places. These meetings are really important because it gives our property owners, our residents, the ability to get that common understanding and help to provide input with respect to how we move forward."

Albany is seeking input on a preliminary Request For Proposals for a solid waste transfer station to be built on the Rapp Road site and adjacent land.  The process requires a 60-day public comment period on a draft RFP, after which the city has 10 days to modify the document for release. Comments on the document are due by June 19. Mayoral hopeful and current Common CouncIlor Frank Commisso suggests taking more drastic action, beginning with barring commercial haulers from the landfill.    "We could extend the life of the landfill and provide more adequate time to plan a future here for the city of Albany as it relates to having an affordable disposal option. That's really important because right now we have many individuals in Albany on fixed income, many people now paying a trash fee. These hastily-scheduled election year meetings that are now going to take place over the next several weeks, I think, are an indication of the lack of planning in that regard over the past three-and-a-half years."

Residents in some neighborhoods more than walking distance from any of the four upcoming meetings would like to see a session added closer to home. Upper New Scotland Avenue area resident and mayoral candidate Joe Sullivan doesn't place much stock in the forums.    "I think this more of a publicity stunt than anything else, to make it appear that the city is really dealing with the solid waste problem. I think if they were really serious about this they would engage more neighborhoods in it. I think also if they just simply put some information up that people could read on the city website, some links. We're aware that they're talking about a transfer station on the city landfill, my question is, Where are they going to transfer this waste to? This is simply in an exploratory stage and I think that right now people are not interested in going to these meetings."

Mayoral candidate Carolyn McLaughlin, the current Common Council President, believes citizens should make an effort to attend the forums.    "To me you can't inform the people too much. And I'm glad to see that the meetings are gonna take place. And I encourage people if you can't go in your neighborhood, go to a meeting in another neighborhood, and go to more than one if necessary, so that you can get and understanding of what the current discussion is around solid waste management in the city of Albany."

Green Party mayoral hopeful Dan Plaat was unavailable for comment Monday morning.

Here is the schedule of community forums:

Wednesday, May 24

6:00-7:30 p.m.

All Saints Catholic Academy, 10 Rosemont St., Albany, NY 12203

Tuesday, June 6

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Arbor Hill Community Center, 47 Lark St., Albany, NY 12210

Monday, June 12

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Albany Public Library – Washington Branch, 161 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210

Tuesday, June 20

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Hackett Middle School, 45 Delaware Avenue, Albany, NY 12202

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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