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Friday 8 February, 2002

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Group asks county to declare landfill site a public park
By RICK MILLER, The Times Herald February 08, 2002
LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County should resurrect its plan for a county park at the site of a proposed landfill in Farmersville, county supervisors were told Thursday.
Gary Abraham, president of Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, asked supervisors to press county lawmakers to proceed quickly with plans to buy the property from Integrated Waste Services.
If the county takes the 450-acre site on Route 98 through eminent domain, it would have to pay IWS based on the value for its permitted use, said Mr. Abraham.
Since IWS does not yet have a permit for a landfill at the Farmersville site from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, it could be argued that the acreage should be valued as farmland, he explained.
IWS would be sure to contest this, Mr. Abraham said.
Abraham said IWS was at least 18 months away from having its permit application accepted by DEC. That would trigger another round of hearings. If IWS meets the state’s requirements, the permit must be granted.
For that reason, Mr. Abraham said, Concerned Citizens is asking the County Legislature to revisit the park proposal. There is a narrow “window” to pursue the park before a permit is granted and the value of the land rises dramatically.
Concerned Citizens and Cattaraugus County have been fighting the proposed 3,000-ton-a-day landfill for 10 years.
County Legislator Patrick McCrea, R-Franklinville, said on the advice of the county’s environmental attorney the county hasn’t looked at the park plan in some time.
Some legislators questioned whether the county could seize the land through eminent domain, and were also concerned about the amount the land could be valued at — up to $20 million, he said.
Mr. Abraham replied that at the most recent hearings on the landfill proposal, IWS officials stated they had spent more than $7 million.
“I don’t mean to imply the county has abandoned the park plan,” said Mr. McCrea. “Some legislators felt we couldn’t afford a park. That’s why it’s on the back burner.”
Mr. Abraham said the proposed park would be a “primitive park” requiring little maintenance.
He said the question the county must answer is, “Where are you going to spend your money? On a losing fight against the landfill or a park. Taking the land would stop the landfill, but the question is the cost.”
Mr. Abraham said the county could expect to spend up to $250,000 to continue to fight the landfill. It has already spent about that much in legal fees. So far, the county has paid for legal fees from a $300,000 state environmental grant and has not had to tap tax local dollars.

©The Times Herald, Olean, N.Y. 2002
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