No Bidders on Fenimore Landfill

October 30, 2014 | Energy & Environment, Politics
Since Roxbury holds the lien, it could foreclose on the landfill, but officials say that won't necessarily happen.

By Briana Vannozzi

Not a single bid was placed for the contaminated Fenimore Landfill.

When asked if he was surprised there were no bidders, Bob Shultz said, “Not surprised at all. I don’t think anybody would want to take on that liability not knowing what’s in the soil, what’s in the air and what’s going to happen to the rest of it.”

Shultz has been leading the fight on behalf of residents. His group, Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition or REACT, is concerned about what the outcome of the auction will mean for the property.

“The township holds the lien and they could put it up for foreclosure in six months and somebody could buy the property,” Shultz said.

But both Roxbury Township officials and the state Department of Environmental Protection, which is in charge of the cleanup, say this auction was routine — thousands go up around the state every month when back taxes are owed.

“That’s a statutory authority. It does not mean the township would foreclose within six months as I’ve previously stated given the work that continues. It’s far too premature to discuss the final disposition of the property,” said Roxbury Township Manager Christopher Raths.

Reached by phone today, a spokesperson for the DEP, Larry Ragonese, said the remediation will continue as planned and on schedule. He says, in fact, everything is working very well and being monitored closely. The problems with odors and health issues have been addressed. And he added the DEP knows residents lives have been impacted, which is why they are spending a large amount of time and money to resolve the issue.

“It’s just one of those situations where the future is unknown and everybody is afraid they’re going to forget about us, they’re just going to put a band-aid on this landfill and you know they’re only doing 19 acres of the total 65 that need to be addressed. What’s the future going to hold for the remainder of the landfill?” asked REACT member Aaron Markworth.

The DEP expects the majority of this cleanup will be done by the end of the year and that includes installing the liner and soil cover which they say will help protect against future outgasing. Residents, however, are still skeptical of the plan and now they’re taking their fight to the EPA.