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Colden councilwoman votes to block funding for community hazardous waste collection

Representatives of the Colden Volunteer Fire Company, their Colden Emergency Medical Response team, the Colden Disaster Coordinator, the Colden Environmental Board and two-thirds of the attending Colden Town Board listened as Councilwoman Patricia Zurbrick cast her vote to block funding the proposed collection of household hazardous waste at the town-sponsored recycling day events.

The Colden Environmental Board chair, Michelle Roberts, a volunteer, spent time collecting information, taking bids and, after narrowing down the field to the evident, best proposition, orchestrated a demonstration from the best candidate vendor. The Colden Town Board members were notified of this event and were invited to the next environmental board meeting, to participate in negotiating the proposal with the vendor.

Supervisor Hoffman and Councilman Pietraszek attended and “horse trading” was done. Colden negotiated a wonderful price, with a commitment from the vendor to donate time in a booth at the upcoming Colden Sunkist Hills Festival to hand out flyers publicizing the event, (saving Colden money in mailing costs), teach public awareness, and promote environmental responsibility. They also agreed to provide the necessary waste containers for individual citizens to purchase in advance, at no cost to Colden.

The Colden Volunteer Fire Company offered to donate their time to assist anyone unable to transport their own recyclable waste to the event. One EMT discussed the lifesaving potential of removing these toxins from homes, in order to stop accidental death or injury to kids, as well as saving the lives of firemen exposed to potential explosions, caused by flammable material in a fire. She said if this program stopped the accidental death or injury of just one child, it would be worth any cost.

Councilwoman Zurbrick was still not convinced to approve the budget request. One lone citizen in the audience vehemently opposed the spending of any town monies on services, which she said could be gained by people simply driving toxic hazardous waste in their car to a mass collection site, sponsored by Erie County, in another town.

In the end, only Councilwoman Zurbrick’s vote was no. The rest of the attending supporters, all volunteers, were quite surprised. Only one citizen expressed agreement, saying repeatedly that “it didn’t pass!” The woman added that she would “call an attorney” if the measure were declared passed. She said there is a rule stating if only three councilmen attend, three yes votes were necessary to approve the requested budget, which is a “grand total” of, believe it or not (are you ready?), $1,000.

Supervisor Hoffman was quick to adjourn the meeting. The issue will be brought up again, at the next Colden Town Board meeting. The whole group of volunteers from the environmental board, the fire company, the EMT and the disaster coordinator were quite unhappy. Hopefully, they all have the strength of heart to return to the town hall again to support this noble and environmentally responsible (and cheap) cause.

Craig Bouquin
Volunteer member of the Colden Environmental Board

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