It’s been just a few months since public pressure in Catskill ended Wheelabrator’s quest to site an ash landfill at the old Peckham Materials along the Hudson River, but the fight will be joined again, this time in the village of Athens.

A construction & demolition debris processing facility along the Athens waterfront was proposed by Athens Stevedoring & Environmental Development LLC to import 8,400 tons of C&D materials each week to a 6.1-acre site off North Washington Street.

This is no small project. The debris will be imported by barge from Allocco Recycling in Brooklyn. After processing in Athens, the materials will be exported by truck to locations in five state Department of Environmental Conservation regions, according to the company.

So much for the village’s attempt to update its 13-year-old comprehensive plan, which is vital to what Athens residents want their waterfront to look like. We wager their vision didn’t include a C&D processor and barges on the doorstep of the Athens Boat Launch.

To its credit, a citizens group called Keep It Greene informed the Athens Village Board about the project. Keep It Greene formed in response to the Wheelabrator Technologies proposal that would have trucked in 445,000 tons of waste per year from its incinerators for burial.

Moreover, Keep It Greene is worried about the facility’s planned operating hours from Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. This could turn the quiet and beauty of a simple fishing expedition or kayak trip into a noisy, dusty day on the river. The organization is also concerned about the safety of having barges in the area and the increase in truck traffic.

It’s important to keep in mind that Keep It Greene and other watchdog groups have put in hours of time to research the effects of ash landfills, waste incinerators and, likely now, C&D processors can have on our environment and economy. We who live in riverside communities deserve better than constant battles to preserve our way of life. And Athens residents deserve better than seeing more than a decade of planning for a beautiful, modern waterfront with all the amenities go down the drain.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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