Manor board wants credit for food-scrap recycling after fighting hard against it since 2017

To the editor:

How much credit should we give a local government for finally offering a service that it fought so hard against?

The Village of Pelham Manor is attempting to answer that question this week with the debut of the new food-scrap program being offered in the Pelhams. It’s a great program, diverting tons of food waste from the incinerator in Peekskill, at minimal cost, and it benefits the environment.

It was just as great a program when the Manor board learned about it in 2017. At a presentation I attended that year in Scarsdale, I discovered a clean, neat, cost-effective system that residents and the department of public works staff loved. I brought this ready-to-roll system to the Manor, assuming our representatives would be happy to join the many municipalities already offering this service.

They were not.

Instead, over the following years, our board fought against this program. Despite requests by multiple residents, the board refused to add a presentation of its benefits to their agenda. The board persistently misstated the costs. They claimed nonexistent health risks and wrongly insisted that Scarsdale sprayed its food waste with ammonia.

I repeatedly corrected the board. Scarsdale’s coordinators, who helped launch the program many times, corrected our board. Nevertheless, the false statements continued until last year, when one of the Village of Pelham Manor board members attended a presentation provided by the Scarsdale food-waste committee at the Manor Club to, incredibly, argue against the program, which by that time had years of proven success.

Why? I don’t know. I can only share my experience of our board being astoundingly unwilling to consider that there might be a better way of doing things, or to truly listen to residents.

So when you hear about our food-scrap program debuting, please celebrate and participate! The program is fantastic. But also know, as ribbons are cut and backs are patted, that 24 other municipalities in Westchester have been providing this service for years. And while other communities are embracing a range of sustainable measures, including e-waste diversion, pesticide alternatives, tree canopy preservation, electric vehicle charging stations and more, Pelham Manor doesn’t even have a citizen’s environmental committee. Not only are we not leaders in sustainable practices; we are laggards.

And right now, we can do something about it.

If you believe, as I do, that Manor residents deserve real leadership on sustainability from local government, I urge you to get to know the Democratic candidates running for office. The difference between their embrace of what’s possible and the record of recent years is clear. Please vote for the Democrats on the Pelham Manor Forward party on March 16 so what we can, in fact, truly move forward.

Debbie Winstead

14 Witherbee Ave.