We would like to introduce our organization to those of you who may not have heard of us. Residents For the Preservation of Lowman and Chemung (RFPLC) is a non-profit corporation formed in July, 2005, whose membership is made up of citizens who are concerned about the future of our communities. The purposes of RFPLC, as listed in our by-laws, are:
▪ To maintain and preserve the historical quality of the communities of Lowman and Chemung.
▪ To protect these communities from contamination of air, water, and land, including visual and sound pollution, and
▪ To protect these communities from any loss of quality of life that might result from such degradations.
Our goals are to preserve our community's rich historic heritage, conserve the environment for present enjoyment and future generations, and protect our quiet rural way of life. The presence of the Chemung Landfill in our community is entirely at odds with these goals.
One of our major concerns is that the arrangement between Chemung County and Casella Waste Management regarding the operation of the Chemung Landfill presents a threat to this community, the environment, and our way of life. Our research shows, among other things, that Casella Waste Management, Inc. is a company whose environmental track record and business practices are highly questionable and that there was a conflict of interest in the manner in which the County awarded the contract to this disreputable company. It appears that the deal was presented to the Chemung County Legislature under false pretenses, and the County and Town of Chemung did not take the proper steps as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) when they entered into the deal. As a result of this blatant violation of NYS law, our group has retained legal counsel specializing in environmental law' in fact, the head of the firm is the former chief attorney for the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Bureau of lawyers.
We are moving forward with a lawsuit which will challenge the legality of the County's lease arrangement with Casella, and by extension, the Town's Host Community Benefit Agreement with the company. Because New York is a â€œHome Ruleâ€ State, our Town has the power to regulate and control operations at the Chemung Landfill, but the current Town of Chemung Supervisor has misled the Board and the Town into thinking we have no say in this process. Nothing could be further from the truth: Towns in New York trump counties when it comes to regulating landfills to protect the health and welfare of the town and its citizens. Landfills are universally-recognized as a threat to the health and welfare of the areas within which they are located. The NYS Supreme Court has universally upheld this notion. We intend to see that justice is done, our town and its citizens are protected, and the historical significance of our area is preserved.
RFPLC members have been very busy attending Town Board meetings (2nd Wednesday of each month), Chemung County Legislature meetings (2nd Monday of each month), Farm Bureau meetings, and have met with the Assistant Attorney General In Charge of the Binghamton Office of the NYS Attorney General. We have also conferenced with the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau in Albany in an effort to get our concerns heard. Interestingly, a representative of that agency said that it sounded like the Chemung Landfill ought to be declared a Superfund site which should be closed down and cleaned up! Our group has also been writing letters to State and Federal lawmakers and agencies, Iroquois Nations, and Department of Transportation, as well as calling, emailing, and meeting with a variety of groups and individuals who may be able to help us attain our goals as listed above.
We are very encouraged that we have the interest of Hillary R. Clinton who is reviewing the considerable paperwork we have sent her regarding 1) the toxic threat posed by the Chemung Landfill, and 2) our area's vital historic importance during the Revolutionary War. We also sent her a copy of the award-winning video Ambush in Chemung created this Spring by Chemung Elementary School children. This video earned the NYS Regents Award for Excellence in Research and depicts one of the skirmishes that took place right here in our town, using actual journal entries of Revolutionary War soldiers, as read by the Chemung school children, to narrate the story of that August day of the campaign in 1779. Some historians have said that if General Sullivan's campaign in Chemung hadn't been successful, New York could very well be part of Canada today! The National Battlefield Protection Program lists our battle sights as being in the top 10% in importance in the nation! Senator Clinton's influence could help us preserve our area as a Protected Historic District. This could boost the local economy considerably (did you know that tourism is the second leading industry in NYS, second only to agriculture?). Our town has much to be proud of, including the fact that in 1788 we were the first town to incorporate in Chemung County: We are planning a celebration for our 220th birthday coming up in 2008). Parts of present-day Elmira actually used to be included in the boundaries of Chemung. Visit our website to learn more about the area's history!The work we have been doing, along with the legal fees, supplies and postage requires a considerable amount of funds. Some fundraising that we are doing currently includes a quilt raffle and Christmas wreath sales, while future projects may include chicken BBQs, craft bazaars, 50/50 raffles, and a Chemung/Lowman historic calendar, just to name a few. It is also important for folks to understand our position on the Chemung Landfill and the prospect of Casella running it, so we are planning an informational gathering at which citizens can learn firsthand what it's like to have Casella as a neighbor. Hint: It's no picnic, as you will find out. We will keep you posted on these developments as plans are solidified.
We try to meet every few weeks. Some of the work we do at these meetings is to help each other prepare statements to make during the public forums of the meetings we attend. We realize that most people are not comfortable speaking in public, but it is very important that we actively participate in the democratic process, so we make prepared written statements when speaking before our lawmaking bodies which are then entered into the permanent record of the proceedings. Our elected officials need to know what our concerns are, and then if they don't act upon them accordingly, we know who to vote out of office. Elected representatives are supposed to be our public servants. It is our job to help them fulfill that role, and we do this by actively participating in their meetings. The goals of RFPLC are very much the same as the oath of office taken by these representatives. We need to hold them to the oath they have taken. They must be accountable for the decisions they make.
Membership in RFPLC is open to anyone who would like to join. There are no membership dues, although any donation you might be able to make to the organization would be greatly appreciated and gladly accepted. If you would like to keep informed of RFPLC's activities, you can email us, write to our Post Office Box, or contact a member of the Board of Directors with information that will allow us to correspond with you. We want your input, ideas, and involvement so that together we may preserve our wonderful community. We look forward to hearing from you soon!Yours very sincerely,
RFPLC Board Members
Jason C. Knapp, President
Robin De Lill Stroman, Vice President
Barbara Cleveland, Treasurer
Margaret Clarke, Secretary
Ellen Knapp, Membership Director
Earl P. Robinson, Member-at-Large
Casella held a public meeting and announced the presence of a chemical in the testing well at the landfill that was in exceedance of DEC standards...