Endicott Area Investigations - Public Health Response Plan

Appendix B: Stakeholder Planning Group (SPG)—The Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition (WBESC)

The purpose of a Stakeholder Planning Group (SPG) is to provide a way for stakeholders to present and discuss health concerns related to the environmental contamination in the Endicott community. Stakeholders are individuals or groups from the community that are affected by decisions or actions taken by the health and environmental agencies; they have a "stake" in the decisions or actions. Stakeholders can be neighborhood residents, property owners, community organizations, business owners/operators, or special interest groups.

B.1 How the Stakeholder Planning Group was formed

The goal was to form a group that was 1) balanced, 2) representative of the concerns and interests in the community, and 3) comprised of committed individuals willing to participate in an exchange of information with the community and the health agencies.

In public meetings starting in the fall 2003, health agencies (the State Health Department, the local Broome County Health Department, and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) began soliciting interest for the stakeholder planning group. During presentations and at other opportunities, participants were encouraged to submit their own names or nominate individuals who might be interested in the group. After months of recruitment, we had 20+ names. With the overall goal being to form a balanced, representative and committed group, we thought it would be helpful to learn more about all the nominees. The health agencies contacted everyone and said we were interested in hearing more about their ideas for the planning group and the community.

Everyone was very gracious and took the time to speak with us. We talked to 23 individuals and enjoyed the range of ideas shared as well as the enthusiasm to participate in the group. We listened to how people characterized their perspectives and were delighted to realize that the group, as a whole, was balanced and quite representative of community interests. The health agencies, therefore, invited all 23 people to become members of the group. Members listed their perspectives as current resident, former resident, members of the Resident Action Group of Endicott (RAGE), members of the Citizens Acting to Restore Endicott's Environment (CARE) group, clergy, retired IBM worker, current IBM worker, science/technology, university, environmentalist, human services, property owner, local official, local business, medical, and parent.

The initial set of community health concerns related to environmental contamination and the actions proposed by government were outlined in the January 5, 2004, draft of the Public Health Response Plan (PHRP). The document authors are the same agencies who participated in creating the SPG – the State Health Department, the Broome County Health Department and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. The agencies thought it was important to take the first steps to create a group to support the issues raised in the PHRP.

B.2 Evolution of the SPG into the Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition

As the SPG elected a permanent chair, the group also chose to evolve in focus. Changing their name to the Western Broome Environmental Stakeholders Coalition (WBESC), the group expanded their focus to include environmental sites of interest throughout Broome County.

The WBESC is the community's group, not the agencies' group. Although the agencies initiated the group, they are not members and they do not run the meetings. The agencies attend meetings at the request of the group.

B.3 The WBESC and the Public Health Response Plan

WBESC members provide input on PHRP-related issues such as the following:

  • Current outdoor air conditions
  • Historic outdoor air conditions
  • Health statistics review – cancer and birth outcome analysis
  • Health consultation – public health implications of exposures to low-level volatile organic compounds in public drinking water
  • Community outreach and education

The WBESC helps the community and the agencies identify and prioritize concerns and the best ways to address those concerns. WBESC members, as representatives of the broader community, help identify ways to enhance community involvement.

The WBESC does not set policy or make decisions regarding the design and implementation of PHRP actions. The WBESC does guide the progress and content of the PHRP. The WBESC does help the agencies understand community concerns more effectively so that the agencies can make better decisions. The WBESC serves as the key vehicle for information exchange between members of the community and government agencies.

B.4 WBESC Members

Chair: Wanda Hudak, email: SPGWHUDAK@aol.com

Secretary: Frank Roma

  • Blaine, Edward
  • Davis, Susan
  • Hudak, Wanda
  • Jaros, Mark
  • Lauffer, Scott
  • Little, James
  • Roma, Frank
  • Sieczkov, Ann Marie
  • White, Rick