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Romaine doesn't want to add to landfill height

The Brookhaven Town landfill is on Horseblock Road

The Brookhaven Town landfill is on Horseblock Road in Yaphank. (July 5, 2007) Credit: James Carbone

Brookhaven Town Supervisor-elect Ed Romaine said this week that he is not interested in increasing the Yaphank landfill's height and wants to minimize its environmental impact, but stopped short of laying out an organized plan.

"Obviously, the landfill is a concern," he said this week to the Brookhaven Community Coalition -- a group formed to help the town decide on the landfill's future -- in his first public address since being elected.

About 50 people attended the meeting Monday night at the Brookhaven firehouse to discuss the landfill and the Long Island Compost facility.

Romaine, who remains a Suffolk County legislator until he is sworn in Monday afternoon in Town Hall in Farmingville, said he wants to gather a group of experts to draft an alternative waste-management future with a regional approach. But he didn't expand on his comments.

Asked for further details after the meeting on decreasing what residents call bad odors and the harmful impact on Yaphank, Romaine replied, "Solid waste management, I have some general idea, but that's why you get experts, to give you options."

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and a member of the coalition, said the group is also concerned about the landfill and compost facility taking on more debris and material after superstorm Sandy.

"We understand it, but we're not happy with Brookhaven always being the sacrificial lamb," she said.

The 270-foot-high landfill, which brings in about $45 million in annual revenue to the cash-strapped town, is expected to reach capacity in about 15 years. Former town Supervisor Mark Lesko had proposed increasing the height of the landfill to keep that money flowing, a plan that met with community opposition.

After meeting with financial advisers hours before the meeting, Romaine concluded, "The town is in a financial free-fall."

The town has relied on its $49 million surplus to cover an annual deficit of about $6 million to $16 million and to balance its budget in recent years after declining revenue from real estate taxes and the loss of some landfill contracts.

"Relying on the landfill will have dire consequences to Brookhaven Town," Romaine said.

Jim Leskowicz, former captain of the Brookhaven Fire Department and active community member, said the landfill is a deep concern.

"To live around the landfill is horrible, and as a firefighter to go up there and fight fires is even worse," he said.

Yaphank resident Eileen Losee attended the meeting to find out more about the negative environmental effects of the landfill.

"Yaphank is being dumped on!" she said. "I would like to see it close."

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