Patrick McGuire


SENECA FALLS — Uphold Local Law 3 of 2016. Close Seneca Meadows by Dec. 31, 2025. And, stop any talk of a new host agreement that would extend the life of the landfill beyond that date.

That’s what the interim president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges has suggested to the Town Board.

In a letter dated Feb. 15 and sent to the Seneca County Industrial Development Agency 10 days later, Patrick McGuire said Colleges officials “are especially troubled that Seneca Meadows continues to advocate for operating the Seneca Falls landfill beyond 2025.”

McGuire’s letter was originally sent to IDA Executive Director Bob Aronson, who had it forwarded to Town Board members.

“We believe our past success as an institution is tied inexorably to this beautiful and historic region, as is our future,” McGuire wrote. “With an economic impact estimated at more than $260 million annually ... as the second-largest employer in Geneva and employing more than 50 people who call Seneca County home, HWS has a positive effect on and a responsibility to this place we call home.”

Citing the Colleges’ 2004 establishment of the Finger Lakes Institute, McGuire noted that agency’s research has shown that economic success is tied to the environment.

“Dangers to the region, whether environmental or economic, are dangers to Hobart and William Smith and to all local citizens,” McGuire said. “Since they were installed, the Colleges have had serious concerns regarding the two mega-landfills located just miles from our campus and Seneca Lake. We are especially troubled that Seneca Meadows continues to advocate for operating the Seneca Falls landfill beyond 2025. To extend the life of the landfill, we believe, will have terrible consequences to the environment and economic health of the region and on Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ ability to recruit students and faculty to study and live here. These threats are real and significant.

“So too, the scent from Seneca Meadows and the Ontario County Landfill is noticed almost daily in Geneva and one cannot travel from Canandaigua Lake to Seneca Lake or from Seneca Lake to Cayuga Lake, without seeing the enormity of these landfills.”

McGuire said science faculty members at HWs report that methane, the gas produced by both landfills, is odorless, colorless and extremely toxic.

“We know that even when we can’t see, smell or hear the landfills, they are still harming our region,” McGuire wrote. “From my vantage point as a college president, landfill expansion poses significant, long-term environmental and economic threats from which we may not recover.

“In exchange for a short-term economic boost, we are threatening our resources, our community and our livelihood with trash from other communities that have not solved their own trash problems. Working together, we can ensure that the natural beauty, environmental clarity and economic strength of our region are preserved for generations to come.”

Seneca Meadows District Manager Kyle Black said he has not seen the letter. Seneca Falls Supervisor Greg Lazzaro declined to comment to the Finger Lakes Times.

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