Freeport residents protest Mayor Andrew Hardwick's plan to build a...

Freeport residents protest Mayor Andrew Hardwick's plan to build a large scale waste-to-energy incinerator on the waterfront in South Freeport. (April 5, 2010) Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

More than 100 protesters rallied outside Freeport Village Hall Monday to criticize a plan that calls for a waste-to-energy incinerator in the village's southeast section.

A diverse group of villagers, neighboring Merrick residents, and members of the Rockville Centre Tea Party crowded on the steps of Village Hall and the sidewalk along North Ocean Avenue. Some chanted "2-4-6-8, Do not incinerate!" and "The mayor's got to go!" at times shouting when drivers honked in support.

The protest came after mounting criticism of a plan, which village officials say is in the "exploratory phase," to build a facility that could process up to 3,200 tons of garbage a day and generate some 960,000 megawatt hours of electricity.

The village Monday backed away from earlier statements about the initiative, saying instead that there are no plans to sign a memorandum of understanding with ZhongDe Waste Technology AG, a German-based company whose executives visited in December to discuss the prospect of building such a facility.

"As for a time when any such agreement could be signed, again, it is premature to discuss agreements with any company at this time," Douglas Thomas, the village special counsel for intergovernmental affairs, said in a statement.

Before a contract is signed, his statement continued, "there is an extensive RFP process that must be undertaken under the General Municipal Law of the State of New York. All matters that have been proposed by various providers with respect to energy cogeneration are being reviewed by our municipal counsel."

At the rally, county Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) said, "To have an incinerator on our South Shore would just be another source of pollution where we don't need it."

Derek Donnelly, also of Merrick, who worked for Trustee Robert T. Kennedy's election campaign and assisted Mayor Andrew Hardwick's, said he wasn't opposed outright but does want more information before a decision is made. "I have an open mind - we just need to have a dialogue," he said.

Stephen Malone of Freeport, who has asked Hardwick about the incinerator plan at village board meetings, said the village already has a power plant that can meet residents' needs. "I have asked for two to three months about this, and I have been shut down at every turn," Malone said.

Dozens of residents were not allowed to enter Village Hall for last night's organization meeting. Nassau County fire marshal officials said the meeting room was filled to capacity.

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