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Writog: writer-photographer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crap By Any Name Still Stinks The Same (Even If You Call It A Rose)


Euphemisms. Gotta love them.

Don't call it a prison; call it a correctional facility. Don't call the people locked up convicts; call them inmates. Change the names and look at the recidivism rates drop to almost nothing!

Don't call your business Kentucky Fried Chicken because "fried" implies grease and high cholesterol. Just abbreviate the name to KFC and suddenly your product is healthier!

In the spirit of "Rename It And They Will Believe" Plattsburgh City has decided not to use the term compost plant in keeping an option open for sludge treatment for material from its sewage plant. Please, it's an organic recycling plant. Ah, can't you breathe that fresh air?

Now the term compost plant seems neutral enough but not for people around here. There was a compost plant operated by the city from 1986 to 2004. A major fire and stink problems resulted in its closure.

Say compost plant and watch someone instinctively wrinkle in nose from the memory. And many can remember the stereo smell, as local folk singer Stan Ransom called it, when both the sewage treatment plant in the city and the compost plant up in the township of Plattsburgh created an olfactory one-two punch.

Plattsburgh City is anticipating the day when it can no longer truck out sludge to the Franklin County landfill. One option is to re-open the compost plant -- oops, I mean the organic recycling plant.

When the compost plant was active Clinton County owned the land where it sat but the city was responsible for its operation. The title to the property was transferred by the county to the city last year, a situation that got Plattsburgh Town upset and resulted in legal wrangling.

Some people are thinking: Here we go again.

After all, it wasn't as if everyone was sold a bill of goods with the original plant.

Check out this headline from Aug. 17, 1982 (Press-Republican, page 3) about public hearings for the proposed plant:

"Experts: compost plant to be odor free"

And here's the opening paragraph:

"Officials assured area residents Monday that there would be no odor from a sludge composting plant on Rugar Street."

These experts worked for a consulting engineer firm hired to study solid waste and sludge disposal. Obviously taxpayer money well spent when you review the articles that follow the opening of the plant, complaints about the stink.

In situations like this there should be an euphemism for "expert."

But one expert did hedge his bets when he stated: "We've got the plant designed so that we can virtually assure that there will be no odor -- that's if it's run properly. If it can be designed right, it can be run right."

So it was a case of form and function. Was the form OK? Did it follow function? Or did bumbling Plattsburgh City functioned it all up?

With such a history it's no wonder Plattsburgh Town doesn't want any potentially malodorous "organic recycling" plants in its backyard again.

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