Protecting Our Neighborhood from Our Mis-LeadersPosted: February 3, 2013
In West Endicott, hundreds of residents are fighting to get the Town Board to stop bowing to the commercial interests and represent the interests of the West Endicott taxpayers. These hundreds of people are trying to protect their neighborhood from the harmful chemicals, 24/7 noise and tractor trailer trips through their neighborhood that will happen when National Pipe and Plastic moves its operation from Vestal to West Endicott. These people have discovered that their political misleaders represent big money and not little people. Below a number of the residents sum up their experiences.
Residents of West Endicott Vs. All Town of Union Board members!
The Town of Union Officials have completely ignored all of our concerns, and all of the Environmental Impact studies. The Board stated that the findings were minimal. The Board has granted variances to override their own requirement, and use variance offset of 5’ instead of the required 25’. They have basically given NP&P the okay to do anything they want without asking them why they need these variances, or if there is anything they could do to stay within the zoning requirements. The few meetings the town did have were little more than a farce. At most of the meetings we (the residents) were not allowed to talk at all. The few meetings at which we could talk, we were told what topics we could talk about. Not only were there limits, they NEVER answered any of the questions we asked. The standard response to all questions was, “You need to file a FOIL (Freedom of Information Letter) for that.” After filing the FOIL, the usual response was, “We have no documentation on that.” or “FOILS are not to be used to ask questions.” Occasionally you will get a response, but more often than not it will not be what you really wanted, making it necessary to submit additional FOILS worded differently.
Dealing with the Town of Union board members makes it perfectly clear that Big Business is much more important than a small residential neighborhood, even if small children and people with health issues will be affected. To quote one board member, “I am concerned with 57,000 Town of Union residents, not the few hundred in West Endicott.” In other words, the health and wellbeing of a few hundred is not as important as a potential business move to the Town. Not a new business, a business that is already located in Vestal. No new jobs to Broome County, just a move from one Superfund cleanup site to a potential new Superfund site. Just what the Endicott area needs, one more potential plume.
We would like to express our MAIN concern with the way the Town of Union has handled this situation. We have tried our best to convince the Town that this pipe company Does Not Belong Here! This pipe company will adversely affect our way of life. The need for business is essential, and we wish no ill to this pipe company or any other business. It is, however, time for local officials to protect residential neighborhoods. Their failures may lead to industry in your back yard. Before long there won’t be any residential neighborhoods that anyone will want to live in. If that happens, no respectable business will want to move to this area. Wake up and protect our neighborhoods and encourage business to utilize our rural industrial parks!
Being someone with a Professional Engineering background, I cannot believe the total lack of professionalism from the entire Town of Union Board Members, Zoning board, and Planning Board members. (Gary Russell)
The Town of Union Zoning Board of Appeals has allowed an Enormous Filthy Pipe Manufacturing business to set up directly in the middle of two residential communities. Why would they allow this? Why would they go completely against the Town Zoning Codes they must adhere to? (Paige from West Endicott)
I am adamantly opposed to granting the requested variances. I will be losing my property rights and my enjoyment of the protections afforded me by the existing zoning laws that I relied on when I purchased my home. The granting of the proposed variance will diminish the value of my property and be taking a portion of my home’s value without compensating me for my loss. The granting of these variances is not fair! (Marilyn Frazier)
At most of the meetings of the council, the zoning and planning boards, the public was thwarted in their efforts to speak, ask questions, and in most cases were rudely ignored and/or threatened by those people supposedly representing our interests. All in all, everything involving this industry’s move to West Endicott has been handled in a very shady and secretive manner. The council and board members, paid or unpaid, elected or appointed, FAILED MISERABLY to protect the interests of its tax-paying citizens. (Bob Lyston)
Advantages to the Town of Union Residents…NOTHING!
Advantages to NP&P…EVERYTHING!
Disadvantages to Town of Union Residents…Hazardous Chemicals and maybe another plume to add to the Endicott area, noise from production, employees, trains, tractor trailers 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year! (Isabell Hashem)
This whole process started long before the residents ever heard about it. I call it back door negotiation. We feel we have been totally betrayed by the very people who are supposed to look out for our wellbeing. Finally, we give NO THANKS to any of the board members or any elected officials, who wouldn’t answer phone calls or even talk to us, from the top of Broome County, down. The same people who beg for our votes every election time.
Since you all have passed the Variances to NP&P, PLEASE, we beg you, do not show up for photo ops. It’s very difficult to look at pictures of hypocrites! (Joan Farrell)
A special invite from yet another Resident:
It is a pleasure to have you working for us here in the Town of Union. In fact, to say thank you, I would like to invite all of you to my home on Dickson Street this coming summer for a cookout or something and maybe sit on the front porch and listen to NP&P. Maybe smell some fumes, look at the big silos, watch some train cars and trucks come and go, maybe even get a glimpse of a stack or two of big plastic pipes. They are supposed to be spectacular and can’t wait to see them right from my house. I’m sure it will be a great time for all. There is a fire department nearby, so if there is a fire at NP&P during our party, hopefully it will be put out soon enough so that all of us sitting on the porch don’t get sick or have to leave the area for a while…that would really ruin the party. It’s going to be a great time and I hope everyone can make it. (Rich Dixson & Family)
Had it not been for one West Endicott Resident asking the planning board if the Town of Union had done an Environmental Impact study on the property this all would have been passed at the first meeting we attended back in July 2012. This Impact study is Mandated! The Chairman, Alan Ewing knows the procedure well and was not following this procedure. (Tanya Martyanik)
Another resident received a letter from the town attorney Alan Pope requesting them to Cease and Desist of Threatening Communications to the Town of Union. At no time did these residents ever Threaten anyone at the Town of Union or anywhere! It went further to say we were not to call any of the Town of Union members at their homes and if we did they were to call the police immediately. The letter further states we threatened the Town of Union members through an email. We have the email and nowhere in this email will you find anything THREATENING to anyone. It looks as though we have rattled a few of the animals’ cages. (Violet Russell)
Berton’s Campaign Promises to the Residents
I will continue to address the growing problems connected with absentee landlords and creeping commercialism and their effect on our neighborhoods.
I believe that working closely with community residents, and having their participation on issues of concern, is essential for effective problem solving.
Government By, For and Of the People…
But Not in the Town of Union
I have had the honor, in my life, to attend meetings of more than seventy community groups and observe and learn from the people in this area, where I have always lived. These groups were always struggling to get the same respect from their governmental officials that the privileged people and corporations receive. Most recently I attended meetings of the West Endicott residents who want to protect their neighborhood from the toxic chemicals, 24/7 – 18 wheeler truck traffic and the sight of cylinders that rise to the sky that accompany the planned arrival of the National Pipe and Plastic Company.
The Town of Union officials have lied, juggled agendas, failed to provide information and in many other ways paid disrespect to these long term residents of a modest neighborhood. The residents’ efforts to preserve a decent neighborhood were treated like a pimple on the butt of progress. Progress as defined by the Town of Union Board involves kneeling, bowing and scraping to the NP&P Company.
In an email I to the residents, I suggested that we “take control of a Town meeting and run our own agenda “in order to catch the attention of the Board. Somehow my email was forwarded to Town officials who passed it on to the Broome County Sheriff’s Department. Town officials were afraid that the NP&P apple cart would be upset. Imagine my surprise when I received an email reply from Broome County Sheriff Detective Joseph Marino. He stated that the action I proposed, “would be disruptive and this would be considered Disorderly Conduct and charges will be filed, if necessary.” Detective Marino attended the next Board meeting in uniform and armed. He was to protect the Board from the people. The real question is why the Sheriff’s Department never stepped in to protect the people from this duplicitous Board?
At the Board meeting a few West Endicott residents spoke during the hearing from visitors’ period and their comments were applauded by mild, brief clapping from those who approved the speakers’ stand to protect their neighborhood from NP&P toxic chemicals. Council person Bertoni stated that he “was not going to accept this clapping” and threatened to leave. He didn’t leave, but he should have. His presence was a blot on good government.
After the meeting Detective Marino spoke to me and told me that allowing clapping at a meeting could lead to booing and other bad things. He was, of course in agreement with Bertoni.
I do hope that the Board never gives an award to a Girl or Boy Scout or other resident because the parents and friends could be prevented from clapping by Bertoni and Detective Marino and be put in the slammer!