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Officials intend to enforce landfill access restrictions

Town of Tonawanda officials said Monday they intend to enforce access restrictions at the municipal landfill, where a group of visitors turned up unannounced earlier this month.

According to Supervisor Ronald H. Moline, the action was recommended by the town's Legal Department. A resolution approved by the Town Board cites reducing the risk of injury.

"Unfortunately, we have had some people on the landfill who were there without notifying the owners," Moline said during an afternoon work session of the board.

That happened July 12, when a group including Alexander "Pete" Grannis, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and State Sen. Antoine M. Thompson, D-Buffalo, dropped by. The senator and commissioner had spent the day visiting brownfield and Superfund sites in Erie and Niagara counties.

"We did not know that [Grannis] was visiting the site," Moline said. "We certainly would have been happy to show it to him."

The group entered from the backyard on Hackett Drive in the City of Tonawanda, where homeowners are pressing for more testing by the state to ensure that radioactive wastes in the landfill are not migrating to their properties.

Employees of EnSol, contracted by the town to work on closing the landfill, called police after noticing the visitors. Nobody was arrested, but a flurry of phone calls ensued between EnSol and town officials.

Under the resolution approved Monday, access to the property will be limited to people authorized by John Camilleri, director of water resources. Signs will be posted warning that trespassers will be prosecuted. "If we are going to go further than that, it's not been discussed," Camilleri said.

In other business Monday, Karl Scherer was approved to take over the helm of the Technical Support Department -- at least for the next six months. Though he is retiring, the department's director, Robert Morris, agreed to stay through January as a $35-an-hour laborer to help with the paperwork and projects under way.

Scherer, who has worked for the town since 1974, does not want to commit at this point to a permanent appointment as Morris' successor. In his temporary role, he will receive a $7,000 stipend in addition to his $73,643 annual pay as project engineer.

Scherer said he plans to keep working for another five years. Meanwhile, he said: "We have an immediate need which I am willing to fill."


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