Several years ago on Mother’s Day, Esther Herkowitz, tried to plant rose bushes in memory of her mother and grandmother. Instead of soil, she hit cement, metal bits and rebar.
“That was when I found out that I bought a mobile home on an unkempt toxic dump,” she said.
Herkowitz lives at Nate’s Floral Estates at 205 Cecil Malone Drive in Ithaca. Today, the mobile home park residents must plant their fruits and vegetables in raised beds, planters or pots. This requirement is stipulated in the operating permit issued by the Tompkins County Health Department.
Until 1970, the land under the trailer park was the city of Ithaca’s landfill, accepting wastes, for 30-32 years.
“This site is the only uncapped toxic landfill in New York State with hundreds of people living directly on top of the dump. It is a scandal that this dump has never been cleaned up,” said environmental activist Walter Hang. He is president of Toxics Targeting, a private firm using government data to track environmental concerns.