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Skunks, funky smells spreading throughout city

Skunks, funky smells spreading throughout city

by Joseph KisselSeptember 19, 2017

The waters crashing over Niagara Falls generate the greatest amount of good-mood-producing “negative ions” anywhere in the world.

But elsewhere in the city, an increasingly potent mixture of chemicals is causing residents to retch.

“Everybody’s complaining now,” said Kenny Tompkins during the administrative update at Monday’s city council meeting. 

“We need to a commission a panel on these smells,” he said. “It seems like it’s 56th Street, off Hyde Park Blvd. Where are we at with this? People are going crazy.”

City Administrator Nick Melson said, “There are a few different sources, and not any one solution.” The issue of conglomerating industrial smells has been raised at previous council meetings.

“We believe some sort of aroma is coming off the train cars going to Covanta,” Melson said. “We have the smell of the water plant, which honestly that’s the worst problem we have. And that’s what we’ve been focusing on dealing with. It will cause the need for updates at the plant, which we hope will come out of this latest fiasco over there.”

“There is some smell that comes off the dump that you get in certain sections of the city,” Melson said. “But as for a panel, I couldn’t speak intelligently off the top of my head of what’s been going on with the panel. It’s been a while but I can check on it and get back to you.”

With the subject still stank, Tompkins asked about a wave of skunks plaguing city residents, and he said while driving the other day, he passed five of them dead in the road.

“If a resident comes across a sick or rabid skunk, get indoors, get in your car and get to a safe place and call 911,” said Melson. “If a skunk or raccoon is on private property, you’ve got to contact the DEC or a local animal-control agency. We can’t go on private property and trap an animal.”

“There’s been an increase in skunk activity,” Melson said. “Probably related to the weather of the last few years. We are going to see what we can do about it. We have several irons in the fire with the DEC right now. They have animal control officers at their disposal.”

Regarding a situation that stinks only metaphorically, councilman Andrew Touma asked Melson if the administration was lobbying Albany for more state aid.

“We haven’t seen an increase in eight years,” Touma said. “And the state obviously took a larger share than we took in.”

Melson: “While we haven’t been successful in increasing aid, we have been successful in preserving what’s there. But given the situation that we have — the unique position we find us in — we have been talking to the governor’s office about being creative and figuring out a way to make sure that funds that are eventually going to be paid to city, or are due to the city, we would get now. There’s nothing to report on that. But there are several options out there, ways we hope we can get an acceptable amount of aid back from the state. Or the amount of unfunded mandates that we are forced to deal with.”

About The Author
Joseph Kissel
Joseph Kissel is a journalist, editor and photographer. He is also the Vice President of the New York Coalition for Open Government, a non-partisan, non-profit group that advocates for transparency and the public's right to freedom of information.