SENECA FALLS — Two familiar speakers had stern words for the Town Board Tuesday in light of the state Fourth Department Appellate Division court’s unanimous rejection of its eminent domain petition for putting a new sewer line under the Ludovico Sculpture Trail.
Valerie Sandlas, president of the Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee, said she is pleased with the court’s decision “but disappointed with the Town Board’s environmental negligence.’’
“Due to advice by our town attorney and the expensive Barclay Damon law firm, you were asked to ignore alerts and recommendation from the state DEC. In 2015, the DEC informed the board of the presence of various endangered species along the sculpture trail,’’ she said.
“DEC officials also recommended avoiding impacts on surface water, in this case, the canal. The appellate court determined that the town failed to take the required hard look at the impact on wildlife and did not address how you planned to avoid adverse impacts on the surface water,’’ she said.
Allison Stokes noted the town’s attorney said there were three options in light of the eminent domain denial: an appeal to the Court of Appeals, reach an accord with sculpture trail officials and redo the SEQRA process, or try again to get approval.
Stokes said Foster’s response “astonished’’ her stating there was little chance the Court of Appeals would consider an appeal because Ludovico Sculpture Trail officials were not likely to reach an agreement on allowing a sewer line under the trail and that re-doing SEQRA is very complicated.
“A SEQRA redo is not a piece-of-cake decision the board faces. Have we learned nothing from the eminent domain disaster? My strong recommendation is that you all start to considered a fourth option for the sewer line,’’ Stokes said.
Both speakers also praised the town for being a finalist for a $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.