Cattaraugus County Legislature Chairman Jess Fitzpatrick wrote to New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on May 12, 1999, asking whether the City would keep it's "promise" "not to send New York City solid waste to any comunity that does not want it." The Chairman noted that Cattaraugus County is "especially proud of our 40% recycling rate" but that IWS's expanded landfill proposal in Farmersville would blot out that achievement: "It is clear that the main (if not the only) reason the IWS proposal is moving forward is to take New York City garbage."
Fitzpatrick ended his letter with this: "We, and all of western New York State, will be most interested in your answer."
Mayor Giuliani asked Deputy Mayor Joseph L. Lhota to respond on his behalf. On May 19,1999, Lhota wrote back to Fitzpatrick that "New York City would never send its waste to a community that does not agree to it." The devil is, of course, in the details. What Giuliani and Lhota consider a "community" makes all the difference in the world.
The exchange opened by Jess Fitzpatrick refers to the recommendation by the Fresh Kills Task Force, accepted by Giuliani, that any contracts for "export" of New York City garbage (upstate communities are fair game) must include a valid "host community agreement."
But what's the "host community"? The local county that must suffer the impacts of a new merchant landfill? It's not the county but only the local town New York City must deal with, according to the Mayor's office.
Accordingly, Lhota tells Fitzpatrick: "The disposal of municipal waste is a business. It is an enterprise which creates numerous jobs, valuable economic activity and, when conducted in an environmentally sound manner, is profitable to both the private sector companies and local communities involved. So long as the processes recommended and utilized are safe, the the disposal of waste should be a matter left to the decisions made by the local governments and private sector companies involved."
This, unfortunately, was a non-answer to the Chairman's question. New York City, according to the Mayor's office, will do nothing about private waste companies that prey upon towns with 350 voters (like Farmersville) without a thought for the thousands of residents who live in the vicinity and must suffer the traffic accidents, bridge and road repair costs, and air and water pollution that urban garbage will bring.
The City will rely on such predation of rural New York to solve its garbage problem with little no pain, little or no change in waste management policies. Indeed, in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg rescinded most recyling in the City. Some, but not all programs, are beginning again in 2003 and 2004. But clearly the New York City Mayor's office feels no obligation to use it market and governmental powers to protect the City's country cousins.
In Farmersville, Angelica, Chaffee, Boonsville, Goshen and many other towns across upstate New York, a dump developer need only strike a deal (voluntarily or under threat of prolonged litigation) with the local town, not the local "community." Then the disposal of waste, as New York City sees it, should simply be "left to the decisions made by the local governments and private sector companies involved."