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Mike Donahue frustrated with Waste Management

County board member: ‘They just don’t seem to share the vision’

Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 10:57 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 28, 2014 2:39 p.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County board member Mike Donahue, R-Geneva, called out Waste Management in a letter Monday, accusing the waste-hauling giant of refusing to negotiate the closure and recreational end-use of Settlers Hill Landfill in Geneva.

Donahue’s letter, directed to Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen and Kane County Forest Preserve Chairman John Hoscheit, details his frustration with trying to get public access details settled.

The landfill has been closed for eight years, and post-closure talks have been going on for two years, Donahue said.

“Now we are to the point of implementing things and getting public access in there, and they just don’t seem to share the vision,” Donahue said. “They seem to be unwilling to go to the actual step of opening [the] facility up to public access.”

Donahue’s letter details his frustration: “I find their apparent unwillingness to fulfill this promise now to be a monumental breach of the public trust. Our efforts to implement recreational end uses at Settler’s Hill have stalled because Waste Management has chosen to hold these efforts hostage while it attempts to exact amendments to the landfill operating agreement that are favorable to them but puts the taxpayers of Kane County at risk.”

In short, Donahue said, Waste Management does not want to uphold the promises it made more than 30 years ago, when it offered a “grand vision” to create a public recreation area on the finished landfill in exchange for the county’s consent to be host to a regional solid waste disposal facility.

“It’s gotten to the point where you can only talk so long,” Donahue said. “The people we are dealing with just don’t get it. It’s time to move it to a different level. I’ve only got so much time left on the board, I think the public needs to start to weigh in on this.”

In a statement, Waste Management officials did not respond to Donahue’s specific charges: “We are committed to working with Kane County to resolve the outstanding issues associated with the revised agreement and working with the county regarding their end use plan. We value our relationship with Kane County and remain steadfast in fulfilling our environmental commitments regarding Settlers Hill.”

Lauzen said he supports Donahue’s efforts to turn up the heat on Waste Management, but the board chairman stopped short of saying the county would take legal action to force the company to live up to its agreement.

“We’re not there yet,” Lauzen said. “We’re trying to work as responsible partners with them. I think Mike is turning up the temperature a bit. Again, I support him.”

Lauzen echoed Donahue’s frustration in terms of negotiating with Waste Management.

“We have these meetings where we think we make progress – and then nothing happens,” Lauzen said. “Sometimes they point to a lawyer, and we square away the lawyers, then it’s back to the same place.”

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