After reading Reverend Allison Stokes’ “Guest Appearance” (Times, May 21), we now have to add one more title to her impressive resume: Fiction Writer!
My experience with children and most adults is when they say, “I’m not lying”, most of the time it’s correct. I guess I have undying faith in humanity.
Here’s a point-by-point breakdown:
• The following is a factual statement made by Ms. Stokes: Seneca Meadows Inc.’s parent company, Waste Connections, is headquartered in Texas and Canada. So one would assume that if a local Seneca Falls family owned the landfill, Reverend Stokes would have no problem with it. I wonder if Reverend Stokes knows where the headquarters of Walmart or Goulds ITT are? I assume that Mrs. Stokes’ impressive doctorate in American studies is not valid because it was issued by Yale University. Last time I checked, Yale was in Connecticut.
• “Seneca Meadows operates in one of the most regulated industries in the country.” Seneca Meadows is highly regulated, that’s for sure! It’s the whole truth! I do not lie. See DEC and EPA requirements.
• “In 2014, SMI first sued the city. Their second trial is ongoing. … Do trusted neighbors sue their neighbors? Of course they do. If a business was forced to close by a municipality, and if that business was legally in operation, that business would certainly sue the municipality.
• “The landfill will not expand outward, it will expand upwards — 7 stories” is another factual statement. However, it forgets to mention that the expansion will not be higher than the current height of the landfill. Due to regulations, the height of the dump cannot exceed the current height restrictions (see above).
• “Seneca Meadows leachate is treated by our on-site treatment plant prior to final treatment at the Seneca Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant. SMI is the only landfill in the state that pre-treats its leachate. And, in a few months, its new pre-treatment system will further clean the leachate before it reaches the distribution system. This new system is being installed in case the City of Seneca Falls does not allow SMI to send pretreated leachate to the sewage treatment plant in the future (Dynatec is the name of the company that developed the technology and system). Incidentally, the city collects over $300,000 annually in water and sewer fees from SMI. It’s the whole truth!
• Reverend Stokes says the sewer lines on Fall Street are “outdated” and the city has experienced sewer line breaks this winter. More fiction! The city has spent more than $3 million to reline these sewer lines throughout the city over the past five years, and the city has experienced water main breaks, not sewer lines, on Fall Street last winter. The city wanted to build a new sewer line on the Ludovico Trail, which would have already been completed, but Reverend Stokes and the Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee threatened to sue the city if it was built. “Do trusted neighbors sue neighbors?” asked Mrs. Stokes. I assume this does not apply to this sewer project (known as the Kingdom Road Pumping Station Sewer Project). Now the city will have to spend millions more to complete the project and disrupt the south side of Bayard Street accordingly. The city was willing to completely redo the trail, including making it accessible to people with disabilities (which it currently does not) and maintaining the trail in perpetuity.
By the way, these are the same people from Ludovico Trail who ask for annual funding from the city and who recently asked for $3,000 of your taxes to help them maintain the trail (I’ve voted no for the past two years, but I was outvoted). More fiction!
• “Water can be tested for PFAS.”
PFAS testing of leachate entering the treatment plant is not required by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation or the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This includes ALL wastewater that enters the treatment plant. If and when necessary — and I hope the sooner the better — the City of Seneca Falls will comply. And hopefully resources will be provided by the federal and state governments to remove PFAS from wastewater, as this will bankrupt most sewer districts in the state. Reverend Stokes forgot to mention that the city tests PFAS at our water treatment plant before it enters the system, and the city has never been cited for a violation. The Town of Seneca Falls is in full compliance with all DEC regulations. More fiction from him!
• Reverend Stokes claims that I and other board members have received “significant campaign contributions from the deep pockets of SMI”. Again, more fiction! I’ve never received a penny from SMI, and I’m 100% sure none of the other board members have either. Campaign reports are required under New York State law. I welcome Reverend Stokes or anyone else to check it out. This is a matter of public record.
You would think that with Reverend Stokes holding a Ph.D. in American Studies, she would understand the concept of advertising, used by businesses and businesses across the country. I guess that’s why a 30-second commercial sold for $5.5 million for this year’s Super Bowl.
• Reverend Stokes noted that Seneca Falls has been listed as “an environmentally disadvantaged community. » No more fiction.
A small area of Seneca Falls is identified by the federal government, based on census information, as ecologically deprived. The area identified does not even include the landfill. Wait, there’s more: the region is environmentally disadvantaged due to low-income factors and non-enrollment in higher education. Nothing to do with the discharge. When you start writing fiction, there is no need to search for real, true facts. You make it up as you go and hope someone believes what you say.
• Reverend Stokes says I “supported” a FOIL request from former Village Mayor Brad Jones regarding leachate. I am able to gather information faster than the city clerk because I have more access to documents and am in a better position to work directly with the engineers. The requests were not “sensitive” topics, as she claims. More fiction!
I informed the former mayor that he just had to ask for the information and there was no need for FOIL. Guess he forgot to mention that to Reverend Stokes when they spoke.
Finally, the biggest fictional part of her story is that she calls herself and the former mayor “environmentalists” and founding members of the Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee. Environmentalists are working on solutions. Solid waste disposal is a necessary function of every human being, community, municipality, county and state; it is also needed globally. We need to work on solutions to reduce our solid waste footprint, increase recycling, continue to reduce organics from solid waste, and continue to develop renewable energy technologies. Let’s have constructive discussions about these forward-thinking initiatives and steer Seneca Falls toward a green community for the benefit of the next generation.
Sending our solid waste to another community is simply “kicking down the street” as the so-called “environmentalists” want us to do. This does not solve any environmental problem. Their solution to solid waste is: out of sight, out of mind.
Mike Ferrara is the Town Supervisor of Seneca Falls.