Some Olean residents who thought they had gained a little ground in their fight against Cattaraugus County's aerial applications of mosquito insecticide were surprised Wednesday night by the sound of a low-flying airplane.
County officials, at the request of Olean Mayor John J. Ash, had issued a statement Monday afternoon agreeing to try to avoid parts of the city during this week's planned aerial spraying of the insecticide DiBrom.
Marcia Kelly, a spraying opponent and a member of a mayor's task force researching the program, said drift from the spray is always expected. But she said she thinks the mayor's maps and resident letters were completely disregarded during a flyover that purportedly took place Wednesday at dusk.
The mayor sent the request last Thursday after the city's aldermen, meeting in a work session, received a task force report stating the sprays appeared to have little effect on mosquitoes. As a result of complaints, aldermen also wanted the mayor to urge the county to avoid the downtown and to use discretion in applying the chemicals during Little League baseball games.
County Deputy Public Health Director Constance L. Kramer confirmed that spraying took place Wednesday night but said she did not know the exact locations that received the insecticide.
"I won't know about particulars until I have an opportunity to talk to the pilot," she said, adding the information about areas to avoid was given to the pilot.
Mrs. Kelly said she received a report from Seneca Heights resident Phil Smith that about 100 people were assembled for Little League games at Forness Park when the plane passed over four times between 7 and 7:30 p.m. and dropped the insecticide.
Fifty-seven parents signed a petition protesting the action, Mrs. Kelly added.
She also said she had received reports that large sections of areas listed in the mayor's request were sprayed, including the Boardmanville area and Seneca Heights.
"From the reports I've gotten in the last 10 minutes, (the pilot) made every effort to spray them multiple times," she said.
On Monday, Ms. Kramer issued a brief statement announcing county officials' agreement "to use its best efforts to avoid those homes and areas as identified by the mayor."
Spraying over Olean was postponed Monday due to windy conditions, and a second statement was issued Tuesday targeting areas west of Olean for the application.
Ash said late Tuesday he was satisfied with the county's decision, but he indicated missing every property on the list will be "totally impossible."
County Legislator Jon Baker, who chairs the Human Services Committee, said the plane did not spray near the Olean High School where youth soccer games were in progress.