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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 28, 2008

Is recycling light bulbs a bright idea?
Village will gauge response before paying for CFL program

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — The village is going to gauge public response before starting a recycling program for compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The town of New Scotland will recycle the bulbs, which contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause kidney and brain damage.

“Village residents cannot participate in the town’s program,” Clerk Linda Pasquali told the trustees at their monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

“Wait a minute. I live in the town,” said Anne-Jo McTague, the village’s lawyer. She described the CFL bulbs as “the curly ones.”

Pasquali explained that the costs for recycling are budgeted separately for the town and village. “We would have to do it on our own,” she said.

“Is there a cost involved?” asked Mayor Robert Conway.

“Of course,” replied Pasquali.

The mayor said that, since the bulbs are supposed to last for years, recycling wouldn’t be needed for a while.

William Smith, superintendent of public works, noted that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency “have declared certain parts are hazardous material.”

The EPA has pushed the CFL bulbs because, it says, lighting accounts for about a fifth of a home’s electric bill and Energy Star CFL bulbs use up to three-quarters less electricity than incandescent bulbs, and last up to 10 times longer. The changeover, says the EPA, will prevent greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global climate change.

About 4 milligrams of mercury, an amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, is sealed in each bulb, according to the EPA; the mercury isn’t released unless the bulb is broken. The EPA encourages Americans to recycle the bulbs, rather than discard them in a landfill, where they can break, releasing mercury.

Detailed instructions are available online at the EPA website on how to deal with cleanup if a CFL bulb breaks at home. People and pets are to leave the room. Gloves should be worn as the spill is cleaned and the refuse should be double-bagged. A vacuum cleaner shouldn’t be used because it will put mercury in the air, nor should a broom be used because it will break the mercury into smaller droplets, which can spread.

Mercury should never be flushed down a drain because it can pollute the septic tank or sewage treatment plant. For the same reason, clothing with mercury shouldn’t be put in a washing machine.

At Tuesday’s village meeting, Trustee John Stevens suggested residents could store their burned-out CFL bulbs at home until the annual Hazardous Waste Day in May and recycle them then.

Pasquali suggested, “We see where the interest is” before starting a CFL recycling program in the village and the trustees agreed.

Sewer study

Stevens told the board that three residents want to gain access to the sewer district serving the Moss Road development.

“The more people on the sewer system, the better,” said Mayor Conway.  But, he went on, he “would like to see it addressed in the larger scope of the sewer study.”

Richard Straut, an engineer with Barton & Loguidice, had told the board at an Aug. 13 workshop that the current system has a capacity for about 100 units, which might involve Maple Avenue and part of Voorheesville Avenue. A study was mailed to 216 residents who live along the Vly Creek and the wellhead protection area.

It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to increase the capacity of the sewer treatment plant, a cost that could be passed to a developer, according to the minutes from the workshop. Homeowners would be responsible for the plumbing and electrical hookup of a grinder pump.

Conway said on Tuesday that he wants to wait until the study is complete before making promises to any residents about sewer connection.

“I would like to look at it as a total project instead of piecemealing it,” he said. “I want to make sure however we move forward is consistent.”

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Approved an application of the village court to the Unified Court System for a grant to upgrade the court with a new phone line for a fax machine, a raised platform for the bench area, upgraded carpeting and newly painted walls, a rolling cart for a printer, and some new furniture;

— Heard from Trustee David Cardona that the summer recreation program was a success with “all positive feedback” from the public.

“We’ll be back at it next year,” he said;

— Heard from Deputy Mayor William Hotaling that the planning commission granted a special-use permit for Severson Manor II, a senior-housing complex to be built near the entrance to Salem Hills off of Route 85A.

The proposed lot size for the 10 new housing units was 1.16 acres; Voorheesville’s zoning requires a minimum lot size of 4 acres, meaning a 2.84-acre variance was needed.

Troy Miller, who is building the project, told The Enterprise this week that he hopes to start work in the spring. “It depends on the market,” he said. Two more people moved into Severson Manor last month, he said, meaning six units are now filled and three remain open.

He said Severson II will have garages, which should help sales;

—  Heard from Smith that he’d like to put a top coat on Moss Road.

Conway asked if that made sense while the developer is still building.

“Yes,” said Smith. “Part of the strength of the road is the top...I would like to get it paved this year. Then it can be dedicated” to the village. He concluded, “I’m prepared to do that as long as the escrow funds are adequate.”

— Accepted a $1,000 grant from the DEC for an “urban and community forestry project.” The mayor said the money would be used to plant trees; and

— Heard a lengthy presentation from Bill Garvey Jr. of Menands, urging the village to plant flowers and evergreen trees, to improve street lighting, and to cut back on the use of road salt.

Garvey presented the trustees with hand-colored drawings of his ideas and a lengthy memo. He spelled out in capital letters such precise details as specifying the color guide rails should be painted — “Lincoln green,” the same green as used in the Canadian House of Commons.

Garvey said he volunteers on the village of Menands parks committee, and he is reaching out to local communities with his ideas.

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