Reading Letters to the Editor in the Gazette lately seems like a depressing journalistic version of Groundhog Day—the same small, highly vocal, highly passionate group of people repeating the same arguments against any negotiations on the waste transfer station, and often demeaning or insulting the character, integrity, and intelligence of anyone (particularly current and former Village Trustees) who happens to disagree with them. Well, passion in defense of the environment and quality of life of your community can obviously be a very good and valuable thing; but when passion is allowed to warp and distort rationality, judgment, and plain common sense, very bad things usually occur, and unfortunately that is what is happening here.
First, these people seem unwilling to understand (or more likely unwilling to accept) that Village voters this spring overwhelmingly rejected the intransigent and fiscally imprudent attitudes and ideas of the Republicans on this issue, and gave Ann Gallelli and Charlie Kane (along with Leo Weigman) a very strong and clear mandate to resolve this situation using a pragmatic, rational and open-minded approach.
Second, and more importantly, they have greatly exaggerated and mischaracterized the real threat to the quality of life of our Village represented by the waster transfer station. This threat comes not from the potential operation of a fairly remote, well-screened, and well-monitored operation limited to construction debris and perhaps off-loading of non-toxic materials like gravel or sheetrock. Such an operation would be no more than a minor inconvenience. In fact, the large majority of us would not even be aware of its presence, except for perhaps noticing a few more trucks on Route 129 (and, of course, the bitter, angry letters to the Editor by the usual crowd that I’m sure would continue).
The real threat to our quality of life comes from (1) the continued wasteful hemorrhaging of litigation dollars (over $1 million and counting), leading to ever higher taxes; and (2) the fact that if we continue to litigate and lose (particularly on the Federal preemption railroad argument) we will be faced with a potentially unregulated, unmonitored operation that might accept household garbage or toxic materials.
The way to deal with these threats to our Village is not to continue to litigate, which only exacerbates them, but to reach a favorable settlement along the following lines:
I believe such a settlement is achievable, since continued litigation by our opponents is probably costing them over $5 million a year in lost profits, in addition to high legal fees. The end results of the lawsuits are as unknown to them as to us, so it would make good business sense for them to settle and assure certain profits. Of course, if they insist on “shooting the moon” and want an unlimited operation, there can and should be no settlement and we will have no choice but to fight to the end. However, I don’t think this will be the case; given what both sides have to lose, as well as the great expense and uncertainty of continuing to litigate on multiple fronts, a fair and reasonable settlement is the logical and preferred outcome for all concerned.
We are not dealing with the Millennium Pipeline, or the potential reopening of the Croton Dump or a large drug treatment center in our community. Any such clear and present threat to our quality of life should not be settled or even negotiated. However, a settlement of this issue along the lines proposed would clearly be the best thing for the Village; and if the resulting revenues (or deal on a municipal garage site) are good enough could even be viewed as an overall plus.
The “great silent majority” of Croton voters clearly has more important priorities than attending every Village Board meeting to rant on this issue and writing letters to the Editor on it every week. We are tired of wasting time and money on this and tired of ever higher taxes (in no small part attributable to litigation costs). However, we spoke firmly and clearly in the March election.
So, Ann, Charlie, and Leo, I urge you to carry through on what we elected you to do: solve this problem in the only sensible, rational way possible, by settling on a favorable basis for the Village. Once you have done so and we’ve put the matter in our rear-view mirror, and the Village can at last focus its money and energy on other, more productive issues, you will find you have the same overwhelming support for this action as was shown in the recent election.
— Bruce M. Kauderer