NAACP Blasts Brookhaven Supervisor Over Dump Project Secrecy

Black Star News, New York State NAACP President Hazel Dukes, Town of Brookhaven NAACP President Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, NAACP L
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New York State NAACP President Hazel Dukes, Town of Brookhaven NAACP President Dr. Georgette Grier-Key and NAACP Long Island Regional Director Tracey Edwards this week blasted Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine for misleading residents about a massive garbage dump that the town is allowing to subvert local zoning laws.

“At the same time he was claiming not to know much about this massive project, Winter Bros.’ lawyers sent a letter on the behalf of the developer AND the town asking the federal government for more time to conduct secret negotiations with Winter Bros. over the 6,000-ton-per-day garbage dump,” President Dukes said. “He is either not telling the truth or someone else is calling the shots in Town Hall. Either way, Romaine is clearly in bed with the developer and is failing the people of Brookhaven.”

In a letter dated May 27 to the United States Surface Transportation Board, attorney Thomas Wilcox requested the board allow for three more weeks of secret negotiations between the town and Winter Bros. over the proposed dump. Wilcox signed the letter as attorney for the developer but makes clear the request was for both the developer and the town. Winter Bros. wants the USSTB to subvert its own rules and usurp local zoning laws so it can build its dump without any local oversight or control – leaving the final decision to an obscure, five-member board in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Grier-Key said, “It’s incredible that the developers’ lawyers are speaking for the town. If Ed Romaine and the Town Board are too afraid to make decisions, they should step down. If Ed Romaine and the Town Board are willing to give up local control over a massive project like this, why are they in office? We know Winter Bros. has deep pockets and deeper political connections, but this is an outrageous abdication by Romaine and the Town Board.”

In an effort to protect the residents of Brookhaven from Winter Bros.’ scheme and Romaine’s failures, the NAACP leaders Thursday:

• petitioned the USSTB to immediately either end or open up the secret talks and disclose everything that has transpired to date;

• called on the USSTB to reject a request by Winter Bros. to waive a six-month notification process so this the community can learn all the details about the project and the approval process; and

• called on the USSTB to make clear it will not usurp local zoning laws as it relates to the 200-acre site and limited its role to the relatively small rail portion of the project.

Regional Director Edwards said, “This is not a railroad in the traditional sense and the rail portion is a few hundred yards at most, but yet Winter Bros. is asking the USSTB to take control of 200 acres. If they can do that here, they can do it to communities of color anywhere – or at least anywhere where leaders like Ed Romaine hide from responsibility and give power over to developers.”

The NAACP leaders called on Romaine and the town board to make clear their position by:

• ending the secret negotiations until the community is fully briefed on the project and the process for approval;

• oppose the waiver of the six-month notification process to allow for the community to learn more about the project and the process;

• make clear to the USSTB that the town opposes efforts to usurp local zoning over the 200-acres; and

• commit to requiring Winter Bros. go through the traditional local approval process it would have to go through absent the involvement of the USSTB.

Dr. Grier-Key said, “This is not complicated for Romaine and the Town Board. They can either side with the community or side with the developers who want to run roughshod over local zoning laws. Once the town gives up control to the feds, anything could happen. Who’s to say they won’t add hazardous waste collections and transportation to the site, and why would we believe them if they promised otherwise, given the secret attack they have launch on us.”

Read NAACP Petition regarding this case here.

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