A rift on the East Hampton Town Board over the future of the town’s waste scavenger plant widened this week as board members continued to deliberate on a proposal to privatize the facility.
About eight community members weighed in on the proposal by East End Processing Corp., which is affiliated with the western Suffolk County-based company Clear Flo Technologies, Inc. They overwhelmingly asked the board not to rush to a decision on whether to enter into a contract with the company.
The proposal, which could be a 30-year contract with the town, lists a number of options for the site, ranging from having the company rent the facility from the town or buy the property in its entirety for $300,000. It also includes the option for the company to improve the facility.
The plant, which pumps treated septage into the ground, was shut down last month. It is being used as a transfer station, where waste brought in from carriers is carted off to points west. It was shut down in light of a number of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation violations that spanned February 2008 and March 2011.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said they felt the scavenger waste plant should continue to operate, but should not be run by the town. Mr. Wilkinson said he didn’t want to be “held hostage” by the limitations of having less than a handful of scavenger waste plants in a few communities across Long Island, should the town’s operation be capped or shut down.
“Several times I hear the word urgency,” he said. “I think we’ve been kicking this around for 18 months maybe. I’ve been fairly clear up to this point that I think we need a facility in town to treat our waste.”
But board members Sylvia Overby, Peter Van Scoyoc and Dominick Stanzione said they didn’t want to rush into a contract with the company without exploring all the options. Mr. Stanzione said he would support considering keeping the facility as a transfer station, or shutting it down completely. Mr. Scoyoc and Ms. Overby said they wanted to know more about the environmental conditions on the site.
“I think privatizing the plant is the right instinct, however I think it’s not our only option,” said Mr. Stanzione, noting the board needs more time to explore other options. “The environmental issues associated with this plant are quite frankly unknown and are probably—probably—not good. We have to take that into consideration.”
Mr. Van Scoyoc also said that the company behind the proposal doesn’t really address another lingering issue at the side—odor.
“Their management plan is basically a complaint form and ‘[we] are going to manage it as best as we can given the nature of the site,’” he said.
The three board members also called for a more holistic approach to addressing the problem of wastewater and suggested working with other towns to create a regional approach to septic management.
Community members like Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister and Bob DeLuca, the president of the environmental organization the Group For the East End, cautioned the board to tread carefully with the proposal and also advocated for a regional approach toward wastewater management. Mr. McAllister questioned if the private sector “is really going to care as deeply” about the environmental issues and its effects on the community as the Town Board would if it were operating the plant.