There's still time to get on the settlement list

Gwen Chamberlain

Businesses, organizations and individuals wishing to add their name to the group attempting to raise funds for a settlement with New York State over the closure of the Yates County landfill can still do so, according to Jeff Gifford of The Birkett Mills.

Gifford has been instrumental in organizing the effort to supplement the $500,000 settlement offer made by four companies pursued by state officials who say $850,000 is their bottom line for reimbursement of funds used to clean up the environmental contamination at the landfill.

On Nov. 30, attorney Conrad Wolan of Sayles & Evans sent letters to a number of area businesses and organizations explaining they could choose to contribute to a settlement fund in hopes of collecting $75,000. According to the letter, anyone joining the community group and contributing to the fund would be given “appropriate releases fom any future attempts to collect monies.”

The deadline to make a decision was Dec. 14, according to the letter, but since the state, county and company officials are still in negotiations, names can still be added to the list.

Gifford says the group has seen a good response to the letter so far, and some people have contacted Wolan to be a part of the community settlement group even though they did not receive a letter.

The New York State Attorney General’s office, under the leadership of Eliot Spitzer, originally contacted four companies — Ferro Corp., Coach & Equipment, Seneca Foods and La-Z-Boy (which purchased Pennsylvania House) — in January 2004  seeking reimbursement of $4.9 million for the cost of cleaning up the site.

In 2005 attorneys for those four companies contacted 64 businesses, individuals and organizations seeking financial assistance to settle with the state, but got little response, except from the group now represented by Wolan.

To close the gap between the $500,000 offered by the four companies and the $850,000 state figure, $75,000 has already be pledged by NYSEG, $10,000 from the Salvation Army, $20,000 from the Penn Yan School District and $10,000 from the Dundee School District.

Gifford says anyone that would like to be added to the list can contact Wolan at One West Church St., Elmira, N.Y. 14901; phone 607-734-2271; email