John M. Becker

As Madison County works to create jobs and put land back on the tax rolls, sustainability is always important. Development of an Agricultural and Renewable Energy Park at the Buyea Road landfill site is an important step in establishing sustainable, energy-efficient businesses, creating new job opportunities and putting land back on the county, town and school tax rolls.

One partnership now under consideration would help turn bio-solids into organic fertilizer.

It is important for citizens to inform themselves on this and other important issues taking place in Madison County: just as it is important for County officials to investigate all aspects of any proposed partnership.

“We would never consider a business that would cause potential harm to the residents of this County,” said Solid Waste Director James Zecca. “Our goal is and has always been to create a complex that is energy efficient, saving tax dollars and creating jobs, and at the same time efficiently handling our solid waste for the next 100 years.”

“We want residents to feel confident in our county official’s ability to evaluate and make reasoned decisions in regard to the development of the ARE Park or any new development slated to launch a new business in this County,” said John M. Becker, chairman, Madison County Board of Supervisors. “Any efforts to develop the ARE Park have always been an open and transparent process by the County.”

For those concerned by recent comments that cast doubt on proposed projects at the ARE Park a repudiation is posted on the county website – madisoncounty.ny.gov and is also linked to the county’s Facebook page. Citizens are urged to do their own research and to get the real facts before making up their own minds about what we are doing to further the positive development of our community.

Director Zecca explained that the Solid Waste Department had always been open to providing tours of the facility to school groups, colleges, businesses and civic organizations. Each year 1,500 to 2,000 students and adults tour the facility. The Solid Waste complex has been successfully operated at this site since 1974 and has always been a good neighbor to Lincoln.

The county and Lincoln also have a Host Community Benefit Agreement whereby the town gets a percentage of the tipping fees collected at the landfill. The county also turned over 10 acres in the ARE Park for development of the Lincoln Town Highway Garage as a Host Benefit.

See Fact Sheet regarding the Madison County Landfill and ARE Park below:

FACTS ABOUT THE MADISON COUNTY LANDFILL and ARE PARK

June 13, 2017

Madison County created the Agriculture and Renewable Energy Park several years ago to stimulate investments by private companies to help build renewable energy projects. The goals of this project include putting as much of the 150-acre ARE Park back on the county, town and school tax rolls, creating jobs in the renewable energy and value-added agriculture sectors and creating new facilities that will recycle wastes instead of landfilling.

With the help of the Madison County Industrial Development Agency the following projects have been completed:

  • 4 MW landfill gas to electricity project; designed, built, owned and operated by a private company. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas is captured from the landfill and sold to the project to produce energy and reduce air emissions.  Madison County shares in revenues from the sale of electricity into the grid.
  • Flexible Solar Cap on the south slope of the landfill. The County instead of buying power from the grid uses electricity generated by these solar cells.
  • 50 kW solar arrays. The County buys electricity generated by solar panels for its facilities at the landfill through a power purchase agreement.  The system was built by a private developer at zero capital cost to the County.
  • Lumber drying kilns use excess heat from the landfill gas to energy plant to dry lumber. This is a private project by a local lumber company.
  • 2 MW, 10-acre solar arrays now being installed on the east side of Buyea Road will generate enough electricity to supply 60% of the entire County’s electricity needs through a power purchase agreement at zero capital cost to the taxpayers.

The County has a 100-year plan to manage solid wastes and recyclable materials.  Diverting certain wastes from the landfill for recycling is a key concept of the long-range plan.  Recycling extends the life of the landfill and is economically and environmentally beneficial.  Future projects that may fit within the long-range plan include the following:

  • Converting agricultural plastics such as feedbags, films and other hard to recycle plastics into liquid fuels similar to diesel or gaseous fuels like methane.
  • Recovering useable wood, metals and gypsum from construction and demolition debris.
  • Processing Biosolids from sewage treatment into federally approved Class A liquid fertilizer for local farms.
  • Anaerobically digesting organic wastes like food scraps and kitchen wastes.

Many of these projects will be required by future regulatory changes from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Others just make sense for the long-term.

Frequently Asked Questions about the County solid waste program and the ARE Park.

  1. Is New York City’s garbage going to be shipped to Madison County?
    1. Madison County has a 100-year Solid Waste Management Plan that has been approved by the NYSDEC and does not include taking waste from New York City.
  1. Is a digester actually an incinerator?
    1. A digester uses bacteria to breakdown waste.  Incinerators burn waste.
  1. What comes out of a digester and does it go into the landfill?
    1. Methane gas, a liquid slurry of bacteria and digested biosolids comes out. The methane is used as fuel for a generator.  The digested biosolids is converted to nutrient rich fertilizer. None of the biosolids goes to the landfill. The liquid portion could be used for organic fertilizer.
  2. Has the County spent millions on the landfill and the ARE Park?
    1. Landfill construction and recycling is very expensive. However, all of the money needed to support the landfill and countywide recycling programs comes from tipping fees, not your taxes.  The County received a grant from New York State to construct water and sewer lines serving the ARE Park.  None of the completed ARE Park projects were financed with County funds.  The ARE Park is designed to encourage private companies to invest their own money to build projects and pay taxes to the County, town and schools.
  1. Has an Environmental Impact Statement been prepared for the ARE Park?
    1. A Generic Environmental Impact Statement was prepared for the ARE Park and a Findings Statement was filed June 11, 2013.  A public scoping meeting was held on March 7, 2011 and a Public Hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was held on February 6, 2012. Each new project that locates in the ARE Park will perform a second environmental impact review based upon the initial study of the whole ARE Park (the generic aspects) as well as the environmental impacts associated with the specific project.
  1. Is the landfill causing cancer in our zip code?
    1. The implication that the wells in the Town of Lincoln are contaminated by the landfill and therefore responsible for causing cancer is a dangerous assumption. Madison County has had and continues to have an all-inclusive monitoring plan for the entire site. Wells are tested on a quarterly basis. Further, public water will now be available due to the development of the ARE Park. The Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) is providing fresh, clean water not only to the ARE Park but to all landfill facilities and Town of Lincoln residents living along the new water route.
  1. Will development of the ARE Park impact the value of my home?
    1. The ARE Park literally surrounds the landfill.  Any market value discount has already been accounted for by the landfill itself that has been in operation since 1974.

More information is available at www.madisoncounty.ny.gov or call Jim Zecca at 1-800-721-2208.

By martha

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