Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Front Page

Massive turnout at recycling event leads to traffic issues in EA

by KATE PELCZYNSKI
Editor

An electronics recycling drop-off held by state Sen. Patrick Gallivan on Saturday turned into a massive headache for people in East Aurora.

According to Jim Ranney, communications director for Gallivan, this is the third year he has held the event, which allows people in the community to drop off electronics for recycling at Parkdale Elementary. Ranney said people began to line up for the drop-off prior to the 9:30 a.m. start time, which he also says is typical.

“Through the course of the day, the lines just got longer and longer,” he said, adding that the sheer volume of vehicles and the amount of materials being dropped off backed up traffic.

Residents in East Aurora voiced their displeasure with the event during the Village Board meeting on Monday, with some claiming traffic was backed up for hours. Myla LeBlanc called it “insane.”

“The whole west end of the village was held hostage,” she said. “Someone needs to inform Sen. Gallivan that having 1,000 cars idling and creeping for three to four hours is not environmentally responsible and probably doesn’t offset keeping a TV out of a landfill.”

Trustee Ray Byrnes said he was also caught in the traffic tie-up, noting that it took an hour and a half just to move a block.

Mayor Alan Kasprzak said his office fielded numerous phone calls from people who were stuck in traffic. He theorized that the massive turnout came after a prior recycling drop-off was canceled because of inclement weather.

“Unfortunately, by canceling that one, everybody rushed down here. There were people coming in from Tonawanda, Amherst, Attica, Arcade, from those areas there. They were coming in here and that’s how the whole congested thing became a problem,” he said, calling it a perfect storm of events.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Ranney, who said the event was announced to people in East Aurora, but the senator doesn’t turn away people from other areas.

“We just had no way of predicting how many people were going to show up to drop off items,” he said. “We understand that some people had to wait for an extended period of time, and we feel bad about that. It’s unfortunate and we certainly appreciate everyone’s patience.”

Trustee Peter Mercurio said he helped out at the event with half a dozen Boy Scouts. While he agrees there is a need for the drop-off, he calls the execution of it “poor.”

Now, the senator’s office, along with village officials, are looking for ways to make future events less stressful.

“One of the first things I did, and the chief [of police, Shane Krieger] will back me up, he was in the office when I did call there, and I said, ‘Please tell me that you’re not going to do this ever again in the Village of East Aurora,’” said Kasprzak.

Mercurio said he also talked to Gallivan about the location during the event.

“Gallivan walked up and said, ‘Hey what do you think, should we do it at the high school next year?’ I don’t even think the high school would work, unless you do multiple [sites] in that area so you spread out the crowd.”

LeBlanc suggested holding the drop-off at a county barn, while others said New Era Field would be a good spot. While Ranney said New Era Field is outside the senator’s district, he did say they are exploring options for other locations.

“We want to do events in the community for constituents, so we’ll be looking for a location, that’s for sure,” he said.

Kasprzak said that next time the village will be prepared for this type of event.

“It’s one of those things you live and learn. It’s done with good intentions,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that if it ever is done again, that the proper things will be put in place or an area larger that can handle something like that instead of tying everyone up.”

Return to top