Erie County says it is planning to reposition guardrails and shore up a 205-foot stretch of embankment between a stream and Eastwood Road in Marilla to prevent erosion.
The work site is across from the 27-acre farm operated by Stanley Travis, who wants to store in a tank a controversial fertilizer with components including food byproducts and treated human waste.
Some critics of Travis’ plan, however, are convinced the work is really being done to stabilize the road for an expected influx of truck traffic.
“As soon as our neighbor called and made us aware, I took a look at the request for a temporary easement to perform the work, and all kinds of bells and whistles started going off,” said longtime Eastwood resident Chuck Specht, who is also a member of a committee of town residents researching the issue.
Plans by the Erie County Soil & Water Conservation District call for building a peaked stone and stacked rock wall along the west side of Eastwood, just north of the intersection with Williston Road. Travis serves as a director of the district.
“Completely coincidental that it’s in front of Stan’s house,” said Mark Gaston, the district’s field manager.
The Erie County Department of Public Works was alerted that state officials flagged that section of the road for safety purposes because the guard-ails were too low, he said.
“In order to get rid of that safety flag, they have to reposition the (guardrail),” Gaston said.
“Because the bank is eroding there’s no sense in repositioning it if it’s going to fall in again. So we’re going to stabilize the bank so the (guardrail) can be repositioned.”
The farm road also takes a regular beating from tractor traffic, according to county spokesman Peter Anderson.
Specht is not convinced and questioned why the work is being done now when Eastwood has seen little improvement in the decades his family has lived on the street.
“They can spin it any way that they want,” Specht said. “The bottom line is there’s the possibility of some very heavy truck traffic that’ll be traveling on that road, and I believe there’s concern that the road may or may not be able to handle the weight of those trucks.”
The Town Board voted unanimously in April to extend an existing six-month moratorium on the storage of sludge.
Town officials are confident the code prohibits the commercial storage of what Quasar Energy Group calls “equate” – a fertilizer made from the anaerobic digestion of food waste and sewage sludge.
The state Department of Environment Conservation granted Travis a permit in March to store Quasar’s equate in the tank, but he still needs a variance from town’s Zoning Board of Appeals to go through with the plan.
News Staff Reporter Joseph Popiolkowski contributed to this report.