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LOWELLVILLE BFI deal leads to stormy meeting



Published: Tue, July 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The village will get $180,000 over five years from the pact.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

LOWELLVILLE -- Mayor Joseph Rossi said he's never had a town hall meeting since he was first elected to his position in 1959.

His inaugural meeting Monday night in village hall was a doozy.

Tempers flared numerous times in the sweltering room among Rossi, some council members and the packed crowd. Once Rossi asked police, through a booming amplifier, to escort a village employee out of the meeting. The request was not followed.

The problem: At issue was a proposed contract with Browning-Ferris Industries, which council approved at a special meeting before the town hall session. The contract would increase the amount of ammonia BFI may send from its Carbon Limestone Landfill in Poland Township to the village's wastewater treatment plant.

The amount would increase from 40 to 70 pounds per day -- the maximum amount permitted by the state. In return, BFI would contribute $36,000 a year for five years toward operations, maintenance and capital improvements at the village plant.

Council approved the pact with Councilman Lou Mamula excused and Councilman James Iudiciani abstaining. Council had until Friday to vote on the issue.

But in a six-page document delivered to some village residents before the meeting, Rossi said conditions of the agreement were not favorable.

In that handout, he pointed to perks BFI has offered Poland -- such as $250,000 toward capital improvements -- along with money for youth baseball, road, fire and police departments there.

No more: Councilman James Alfano said council could not have bargained for anything higher than the offer they received.

"We do not have the negotiating power that Poland Township has," said Alfano, pointing to the neighboring township's control over the landfill.

Rossi and Iudiciani still contended that items such as free garbage pickup would have added nicely to the contract.

Currently, BFI offers free garbage pickup to homes surrounding the landfill.

Michael Heher, a district manager for BFI, said Lowellville's garbage pickup rates, at $10 per home per month, are $3 cheaper than Poland's. He said free pickup for residents would only be an option if garbage starts being transported by rail through Lowellville.

In the end, many of those at the meeting spent more than two hours screaming comments or questions only to be interrupted by someone else.

Council President Keith McCaughtry said he was pleased council voted in favor of the $180,000 the contract will bring in. "We could use the money."

Rossi said he was displeased with the vote. He still believes the city could've negotiated for more perks for residents.

wheatley@vindy.com




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