On Colonie’s northern border meanders the old Mohawk River. Its waters, with the advent of the Erie Canal served this area well, making Albany one of the most prosperous cities in the country in the 19th century. But, as time and technology advanced, the canal lost its relevance, and in some areas of our region, you unwittingly drive over the remains of “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”
The Mohawk winds and turns on it’s easterly path towards the Cohoes Falls, and ultimately the Hudson River. Within the crook of a distinct “question mark” between Albany and Saratoga counties lies Colonie’s Town Solid Waste Management Planning Unit on Route 9. For years it has served town residents with its waste management efforts. According to the Colonie’s website, the current structure of the landfill will serve the public for another two to three years. Further expansion within the landfill’s unused footprint will extend the life for approximately seven more years. But, nonetheless, its days are numbered.
Recent news continued to bring to light details of how the landfill is managed, who is able to use it, and the effect it has had on neighbors around it. Few of the details were unknown to our readers. But, the illustration of the seagull infested mound of waste prospectively growing another 100 feet in height, makes for an unwelcome picture. Take also into account that the amount of trash that is accepted by the facility is predominately from other sections of the state is also unsettling.
The fact that Saratoga County is the leading contributor to Colonie’s TOWN facility, leaves one to think that we ought to adopt an adaptation to Austin’s unofficial city slogan of “Welcome to Austin, don’t live here.” A drive down the New York State Thruway, motorists look upon Albany County’s landfill just outside Exit 24. Motorists from the South or North don’t see the Albany skyline once they turn west. The most impressionable sight of our area is our trash. It’s reminiscent of those who travel through New Jersey’s “Cancer Ally,” with its refineries and trash mounds. Travel south down Route 9 from Saratoga, and we’re already getting that same sort of welcome for a community continuously voted as the best to live in.
The landfill has not made Colonie as prosperous as the Erie Canal did for Albany, but its business has offset budgetary losses and helped prevent unwanted tax hikes for several years. But, at what cost? It’s managed as a business, and hardly resembles the town service its title implies. Should plans continue to expand and take on more trash, concerns over its impact on neighbors and surrounding environment continue to mount as well. Perhaps if the landfill truly was exclusive to town residents, the facts could be digested a little more smoothly. It certainly would prolong the life of the landfill. Admittedly, it would not take in much for income. But, is Colonie then willing to adopt the slogan of “Welcome to Colonie, leave us your trash.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.