When asked if air scrubbers or any air-filtration method could be part of a new boiler system, NYSERDA project manager Matt Brown said "generally, filtration is not an efficiency measure" so it would not fall under the scope of NYSERDA's programs.
After this, a number of residents asked what boiler efficiency had to do with air quality in the communities immediately surrounding the Lafarge plant.
"You're totally diverting the money to a whole other area," said Christian Sweningsen of Stuyvesant. "What does a boiler have to do with the air quality at the high school?"
Prior's explanation was simple: "If we reduce the use of fuels on [the school] site, we reduce the emissions on site."
But this didn't satisfy most of the area residents who turned out for the presentation. Chief among them was Susan Falzone, board member of the activist group Friends of Hudson.
"They're the good guys, NYSERDA, but they missed the opportunity to be champions," said Falzone. She said while school districts do need efficient boilers and less vehicle emissions, it is not what the RCS community, in particular, needs right now. "They fell far short of what they could have done for the people of this community. It all makes perfect sense, but it's just not right."
Bob Ross of New Baltimore agreed with Falzone and wondered why NYSERDA was put in charge of the funds in the first place. "If this is the wrong agency to do something about the air quality here, then give the money to another agency," he said.
Falzone said she sent an e-mail to NYSERDA officials months before the presentation to request a meeting to decide what would be appropriate channels for the money. While the group did receive advanced notification of the presentation, she said, the e-mails went unanswered. Prior said at the presentation that he received no such request.
Attendees also took issue with the stipulation that the funds be available to communities within a 30-mile radius of the plant.
"You can't do that much with $490,000. You can't," said Falzone. "[Disbursement] should start with the people who have concerns " the people who live next to this plant everyday."
Prior encouraged several attendees to e-mail project suggestions to NYSERDA. That address is email@example.com.""