Another chance to weigh in on landfill

Published 9:52 pm Friday, April 1, 2011

When I first started working in Suffolk, my boss informed me of a few of the cutthroat debates that were swirling in Suffolk. For example, the simmering anger that often lies beneath the surface whenever North Suffolk is mentioned. Or the big stink – literally – that surrounded the Southeastern Public Service Authority landfill.

My experience with landfills has been fairly positive thanks to Mt. Trashmore, a landfill-turned-park in Virginia Beach.

When I lived in Virginia Beach during my dad’s stint at Naval Station Norfolk, we often visited the grassy knoll that had somehow established itself in the middle of the metropolis. I have fond memories of rolling down that hill, flying kites and spending hours exploring the huge playground called Kid’s Cove that opened while we lived in Virginia Beach. Even now, I have trouble comprehending that that green expanse is created out of mounds of trash that at one time, I’m sure, was a bit of a problem for area residents.

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In Suffolk, the landfill has been a source of contention since a deal was made to put it there in exchange for free trash disposal for Suffolk. If officials aren’t dealing with other localities contesting the deal, they’re contending with the smell, an issue that has continually popped up during my short tenure in Suffolk.

At first I couldn’t understand what the issue was. I drove by the landfill every day on my way to work and never noticed a smell.

The only smells I ever noticed in Suffolk were fairly delicious, either recalling freshly made doughnuts or roasting coffee, which I generally smelled late at night on my way home from work. It turns out those smells are from local factories, but I’d never smelled anything that would have caused disgust.

That is until last November, when the smell returned with a vengeance. And that was when I finally understood why localities living near landfills really get the stinky end of the stick.

Luckily for me, I merely had to close my vents and spray a little air freshener to end my nose’s misery.

But the misery has lasted longer for area residents. And their collective voices have generally been able to motivate SPSA officials to work to remedy the situation.

But smell isn’t the only issue involved in the facility. SPSA officials are now grappling with space and money issues, both of which will affect those who live near the landfill, as well as other Suffolk residents.

Public opinion in Suffolk is a powerful force that should be used when the public has a stake in a discussion. In the case of the landfill, SPSA officials are accepting comments on the recent expansion discussions through April 15. There’s no time like the present to get involved in the issues that affect your life.