Letter. Never give up: Mission accomplished in Endicott

Your Turn
Olwen Searles, Guest columnist
February 7, 2021.
Press & Sun-Bulletin, page A12, Binghamton NY.
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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

When a small group of individuals first started NoBurnBroome.com to oppose the SungEel lithium ion battery facility, they were told by the Endicott Village mayor, Linda Jackson, that it was too late and it was a “done deal.” We now know that it wasn’t.

The group didn’t doubt that they could make a difference. Instead, they forged ahead with conviction, determination, knowledge and experience.

And as of Feb. 1, that mission was accomplished. By rescinding the zoning to allow recycling in this area, they squashed the introduction of PFA’s in our village.

Many in the community told me that since they heard the mayor say the facility was a forgone conclusion in letters to the editor, radio talk shows and local news channels, that we might as well give up. We did not. We organized, we picketed, we protested, we wrote political leaders, we utilized social media, we put signs everywhere in the Village of Endicott, and we donated time and money. But most importantly, we voted. We voted to break the trustee block that had undermined most of the trustee meetings. By being committed, we succeeded. Our family and friends learned that we wouldn’t cave or cede.

We quickly learned that we were up against a few trustees that didn’t have our best interest in their voting. We learned that big conglomerates can be fought. Our experts taught us that science should always have a place in our community. We were not swayed by SungEels talking head who patronized us. We stood our ground.

And that ground that means nothing to SungEel is where we live. That ground is dotted with ball fields, schools, grocery stores, churches and people who are willing to defend them all.

When a huge company tells you that all is well and safe, check to make sure you still have all 10 fingers and your wallet. Every ecological disaster in this world started out with a company telling that community how they would be enriched by them.

I could list all the people responsible, but there are too many to name. Over 4,000 people signed our petitions. No Burn Broome signs in yards outnumbered political ones. All of the people involved used their talents and resources in some forms. This is even more admirable considering it was done during a pandemic. The community is thankful and forever in their debt. When it is once again safe to congregate, we should try to make this victory an official celebration. Until then, be safe, be secure, and always question a “done deal.” Your small corner of the world depends on it.

Olwen Searles is an Endicott resident.

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