ATHENS — Residents and village officials will gather Sunday to discuss a proposed construction and demolition debris processing facility.
The meeting, hosted by Keep it Greene in partnership with Friends of Athens, will include guest speakers such as Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay and local geologist David Walker of Catskill. The event will take place from 1-3 p.m. at the Athens Firehouse.
The project, proposed by Athens Stevedoring & Environmental Development LLC involves importing 8,400 tons of C&D materials each week to a 6.1-acre site off North Washington Street, according to the developer’s application to the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Jan. 3.
The materials would come from DEC Region 2, which is Long Island City, according to the application.
After processing in Athens, the materials will be exported by truck to locations in state Department of Environmental Conservation Region 3, which includes Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan, Orange, Putnam, Westchester and Rockland counties; Region 4 which includes Delaware, Greene, Columbia, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Albany, Schoharie, Montgomery and Otsego counties; Region 5 which includes Saratoga, Washington, Fulton, Hamilton, Essex, Franklin and Clinton counties; Region 6 which includes Oneida, Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties; and Region 7 which includes Oswego, Onondaga, Madison, Cortland, Cayuga, Tompkins, Tioga, Broome and Chenango counties, according the application. The project requires a Part 360 registration from DEC, but does not require a permit from the DEC and is not subject to state environmental quality review, according to DEC.
Gallay has serious concerns about the project.
“This proposal involves so many significant potential impacts on the river, roads, community character and quality of life, air quality, recreation, habitat and waterfront revitalization,” he said.
The project requires a full environmental impact statement, Gallay said, “before any agency could possibly make an intelligent decision.”
“We urge people in the community to become involved,” he said. “The only way to assure a decision is to show up and demand one.”
Walker agreed that public review is essential.
“Metropolitan waste stream management is contentious along the whole length of the tidewater Hudson,” Walker said. “The Athens C&D terminal proposal is the most recent example of an attempt to concentrate environmentally questionable waste streams into Greene County. It is important that this attempt be given public scrutiny.”
Some residents worry the project may alter the character of the community.
“Athens is cherished for historic charm and the natural beauty of its setting along the Hudson River, Friends of Athens President Catherine Censor said. “Our health, our businesses and our heritage all depend on responsible stewardship of the riverfront. Although the residents of Athens have a heightened interest in the protection of the waterfront, it is not our concern alone. The Hudson River waterfront, which welcomed the Half Moon and inspired the likes of Thomas Cole, is part of our shared national heritage. We all have a stake in its care.”
The village board is learning more about the project, Trustee Joshua Lipsman said.
“We’re following it very closely,” Lipsman said. “It is a matter of deep concern for us. We will be working diligently to get the right outcome for our community and treat all parties with respect and equal consideration.”
Mayor Stephan Bradicich agreed.
“My official position is that we’re going to review it — once we have a permit before us — in accordance with all local laws,” he said.
Bradicich and other board members will be in attendance at Sunday’s meeting to answer legal and comprehensive-related questions, he said.
The village is in the midst of updating its 13-year-old comprehensive plan.
Depending on the nature of the project, it may go before the village’s Waterfront Advisory Committee or the planning board, Lipsman said.
“We can’t be a lead agency until, a) we know it’s going to happen and, b) we know what it is,” Lipsman said.
Multiple requests for further information on the project were made to Nadine Shadlock, the attorney representing Athens Stevedoring Development. No response was received by press time on Friday.
In a letter dated July 29, 2019 included with the January application, R. Daniel Mackay, deputy commissioner for Historic Preservation with the state Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Office, determined that no significant archaeological or historic resources would be impacted by the project.
“These comments are those of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and relate only to historic/cultural resources,” Mackay wrote. “They do not include potential environmental impacts to New York Parkland that may be involved in or near your project. Such impacts must be considered as part of the environmental review of the project pursuant to the State Environmental Quality Review Act and its implementing regulations.”
The developer has also set up a meeting with Bradicich to discuss the details of the project.
“Once we get the details, I will start looking at our concerns in terms of local and environmental impact,” Bradicich said. “Other than that there’s not much I can do until they apply for a permit.”
Although DEC is not requiring a state environmental quality review for the project, the village will require one, Bradicich said.
The village attorney has advised the developer of the applicable local laws and that the village intends to designate itself lead agency on the project, he said. Because the proposed project is adjacent to the Athens Boat Launch, a state park, the environmental review will be considered a Type I action.