About 20 Town of Lewiston residents offered mixed feelings about a proposed settlement with Modern Landfill during a public-information meeting Saturday in South Elementary School.
Town officials announced March 10 they had reached a tentative agreement with Modern that would govern the company's operations at the Model City Road facility through the year 2011, when landfilling at the site would cease.
The agreement also limits waste handled each year through its closing date. Lewiston Supervisor Thomas E. Sharp has estimated the value of the agreement to the town at more than $47 million.
Timothy P. Henderson, president of Residents Organized for Lewiston's Environment, urged residents to study the agreement, which is available in Town Hall on Ridge Road.
He also called concessions to the landfill operator significant.
"While it appears that Lewiston has been given a reprieve . . . the expansion is significant," he said.
Joan E. Gipp of Ridge Road questioned the new maximum height for the landfill -- 95 feet.
"(Did) the board approved it because this is going to be an invisible 95-foot landfill?" she asked.
Town Engineer Robert A. Gallucci emphasized that a Modern Landfill consultant indicated the issue is more of a molehill than a mountain.
"They showed a landfill would never project above the horizon," he said.
"There's no such thing as an invisible landfill," Ms. Gipp replied.
Francis J. Pluff of Bridgeman Road noted the Niagara-Wheatfield School District is partially in Lewiston and should reap some of the benefits of the proposed agreement.
"Why don't we have the same amount of financial considerations?" he asked.
Sharp said that, under the proposal, the Lewiston-Porter School District will receive free trash collection and recycling. Niagara-Wheatfield, however, is already under contract with Browning-Ferris Industries for its collection services, he noted.
He did say, however, he would consider the proposal.
Councilman Michael J. Curtis said he called the proposal a "cash-for-trash agreement" and preferable to a previous proposal that would have resulted in both expansion and increased truck traffic.
"I was very uncomfortable with the prospects for the community under that scenario," he said.
Gary E. Smith, president of Modern Corps. said the company is doing its best to stay in the community and address all concerns.
"This is our business," he said. "We can't afford it to go south on us."
Warren M. Wiese of Lewiston Road praised Town Board members for their work on the agreement.
"This is a tremendous agreement and I think you ought to be congratulated on doing a fine job," he said.
Under the proposal, also, residents would continue to have free waste collection and disposal through the year 2000, and reduced rates from 2001 through the life of the agreement.
Modern also has agreed to operate the the town's recycling program free through 2011. In addition, Modern would pick up the anticipated $3 million price of closing the old town landfill east of Harold Road.
Also, Model City and Harold roads -- primary routes to the landfill that have deteriorated because of truck traffic -- would be reconstructed at a cost of $1.5 million, which the firm would pay.
Children's programming at Artpark and the town's Recreation Department would benefit from a payment, per ton of waste, of $1.25. Sharp projected that this would add up to more than $650,000 in Modern's first full year of operation under the agreement.
The Town Board will address the issue during a public scoping session at 6 p.m. Monday in the Town Hall.