An Ad Hoc Committee for Waste Solutions within the township was established in August by Brookhaven Town, and its members were selected by supervisor Ed Romaine. The committee, led by Gregory Miglino, has been tasked with drafting a recommendation for how to proceed and has a timeline that ends at the close of 2020.
“When [supervisor Romaine] asked each of us to volunteer for this assignment, he was explicit in telling us that neither the town nor he had settled on a direction,” Miglino said. “He asked that we engage whatever resources we thought necessary to form a recommendation that could be transmitted to the town.”
The Landfill Remediation Group has an overarching goal of getting Brookhaven Town to explore other waste solutions that don’t involve either a landfill or ash monofill in North Bellport, a community with a considerable minority population. Abena Asare, a leader of the group, communicated with Miglino via email recently to discuss further conversations and joint participation on the issue of waste solutions in the township.
“We have been eagerly requesting more public engagement with the town officials, town decisionmakers, and any and all experts [regarding] the town's proposal, and we would be happy to spread the word and attend such a meeting,” Asare said, referencing the possibility of a public meeting or Q&A that would feature the ad hoc committee as well as members of the Landfill Remediation Group.
Asare also welcomed Miglino and all other members of the committee to attend the group’s bi-weekly meeting, the following meeting after the sent email being Nov. 6. Miglino could not attend the meeting, but fellow committee member Tom Williams was available.
With members of the group, Williams took questions regarding what has been discussed among committee members.
“We are not decision makers. We make suggestions, and the town makes decisions,” Williams said.
Williams shared that he is concerned with the lack of regional planning and enough involvement from the Department of Environmental Conservation. When asked about how other towns and cities across the country are moving away from ashfills through trying to cut down the amount of waste that the towns create and increase reuse/recycle programs, Williams said that the ad hoc committee has discussed that aspect.
“Ash can be mixed with concrete and reused,” Williams said. “New York State has not yet approved beneficial use of ash, so coordination is needed at the local and state levels for usage of ash.”
Miglino, who could not attend the Nov. 6 meeting, pointed out the importance of public input here in his response email to Asare.
“There can be no more important resource [than] the public, more specifically people from the area surrounding the landfill,” Miglino said, noting the majority of group members are from the Bellport, Brookhaven Hamlet and Yaphank communities. “I support transparent government to the extent it can be obtained without impacting our goal.”
Miglino qualified the previous sentence by explaining that one vendor has required committee members to sign non-disclosure forms due to the involvement of proprietary technology.
“If we can balance the public’s right to know with the committee’s need to have frank discussions with the experts we engage, I think we can achieve a hybrid of what you are asking for,” Miglino said, referencing Asare’s request for meetings or public notes being made available.
The ad hoc committee has convened four times thus far, and their terms are up at the close of 2020.