Our Government > Councilmembers > Viviana L. Russell > Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

11/30/2010 - Councilwoman Viviana Russell Works With Environmental Agency and Local Businesses to Battle Odor Problem
Westbury, NY—Since taking the reins a year ago of North Hempstead’s First District, Councilwoman Viviana Russell has hit the ground running, guided by her beliefs in community SOWing—Strengthening bonds between residents, organizations, businesses and government; Overcoming obstacles; and Welcoming new ideas.

Her efforts are bearing fruit.

A resident of New Cassel, Russell—whose district also includes, Carle Place, and the Villages of Westbury and Old Westbury—is very familiar with her territory, her constituents and their concerns. She knows firsthand, for example, and has heard from constituents on numerous occasions about the horrible odor that every so often wafts over parts of Westbury.

After following up on string of complaints to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and tracing the source of the smell to two local companies during a tour of the area with a representative from the agency, Russell worked side-by-side with the businesses and the DEC to formulate a plan to deal with the problem.

In less than a week, Russell said, the companies, Omni Recycling Corp. and Long Island Composting Corp., implemented the DEC’s recommendations, taking measures that, for now anyway, appear to have dramatically minimized the smell.

“As mainstays in the community, they responded immediately to the residents’ concerns and was only too willing to do their part to help protect the residents’ quality of life,” Russell said of the two businesses. “I will continue to observe the efficacy of the measures taken.”

Family-owned and operated, Omni Recycling Corp and its two affiliates, Meadow Carting and Jamaica Ash, have conducted business in New Cassel for more than 60 years, said Omni’s president Anthony Core.

Core said he willingly adhered to DEC’s recommendations by upgrading the system that mists the Portland Avenue yard waste processing facility with an apricot scented agent approved the DEC for use at solid waste facilities. He pointed out, however, that trucks carting waste from the town of Brookhaven through New Cassel to the Covanta incinerator off the Meadowbrook Parkway in Hempstead also are a major source of the odors residents complain about.

“As one of the region’s largest recycling facility and a community mainstay, we try very hard to be a good neighbor by eliminating as much truck traffic as possible and keep odors under control,” he said.

Recycling yard waste instead of incinerating it or dumping it in landfills is the environmentally sensible way to rid suburbia of this ubiquitous material.

That basic idea spawned a business idea for Charles Vigliotti and his brothers Dominic and Arnold two decades ago. Now headquartered in Westbury, Long Island Compost manufactures more than 3.5 million bags of soil products, Vigliotti said.

Vigliotti’s company operates two transfer stations, a 3-acre site in Westbury on Urban Avenue where yard waste including grass clippings and leaves are brought and a 62-acre facility in Yaphank on Horseblock Road. The company conducts its composting operations on a network of participating East End farms.

After the DEC identified the trucks leaving Vigliotti’s Urban Avenue transfer station as one of the sources of the odor, the company responded by spraying down the vehicles as they leave the facility with the same odor-eliminating agent used by Omni Recycling. He has also instructed his drivers not to travel through the community, Vigliotti said, adding that he strongly enforces that policy.

Noting that a vast majority of his 170 employees live in Westbury, Vigliotti said: “We’ve always worked closely with the Town. Whatever we can do to improve our operation in response to residents’ concerns, we will do. We are all in this together.”

Councilwoman Viviana Russell (right) examines the leaf bunker and perfume spraying system at Omni Recycling plant.