The Conference of Cornetto

In mid-October 2007, the City and Regional Councils, compelled by citizens’ protests, finally decided to organize a public hearing on the expansion of Belladanza. Upon entering the meeting hall, it was immediately apparent that the Council had expected about fifty people to attend. Instead, the hall - which has a capacity for over three hundred - was well over half full, and many citizens were obliged to remain standing. The meeting was held in Cornetto, a village near Citta di Castello. It was obvious that the Councils wanted to hold the meeting away from Citta di Castello proper, in order to keep the problem of Belladanza distant from the inhabitants of the city center.

The Protests of the Citizens in Cornetto

For the first time Ing. Ennio Spazzoli, mayor Fernanda Cecchini and City Council Member for the Environment Massimo Massetti tried to explain the reasons for the doubing of Belladanza to the citizens. The citizens, many of them visibly angry, complained:

a) that the deliberations and decisions regarding the enlargement of the landfill were conducted in secret by the City Council;

b) that these decisions were made in spite of the fact that this same City Council had for years promised that Belladanza would be closed and reclaimed at the latest by its “natural” expiration date of 2011;

c) that the landfill, even in its present form, is seriously damaging the environment of the Alto Tevere area and the health of the inhabitants of the zones immediately surrounding it - and that therefore not only should the landfill not be doubled but, if possible, it should immediately be closed;

d) that Belladanza, which was intended only for the refuse of the Alto Tevere, is now accepting trash from everywhere - and probably without any serious and independent controls as to the type and toxicity of the refuse;

e) that the only possible explanation for the actions of the Council is that someone in the public administration has an illegitimate interest tied to the huge profits coming from a “carefree” management of the landfill.

Mayor Fernanda Cecchini, between Arrogance and Embarrassment

During the Cornetto meeting, which lasted until well after midnight, the citizens bombarded Mayor Cecchini, Ing. Spazzoli and Ass. Massetti with questions. They responded to fewer than half of the questions and limited themselves to insisting on the following:

a) that Belladanza does not pollute, that it has never polluted and that it is not dangerous;

b) that the landfill now accepts “special refuse,” from outside of the Alto Tevere as well, but not toxic and-or dangeous refuse;

c) that the landfill, after it has been doubled, will be a source of riches and well-being for the entire Alto Tevere and for Citta di Castello in particular;

d) that the Feasiblity Study, prepared by Sogepu and approved by the City Coucil in its meeting of July 23, 2007, not only is not illegal - as sustained by the New Belladanza Committee – or completely void of serious and verifiable contents – as sustained by the members of the Comitato Ambientale di Belladanza - but that it is an example of political and administrative transparency;

e) that the Region of Umbria, had some time ago required that Citta di Castello, through the regional financial law, double the size of Belladanza - and that therefore the Sogepu Plan is simply their compliance with the law;

f) that the Municipal Council had for some time been informing the citizens in public meetings, in which the citizens, however, were uninterested and never wanted to participate. Mayor Cecchini, however, committed an error: When she cited a specific public meeting as an example, some of the citizens present shouted “We were there. It was you who didn’t show up that evening!”;

g) that the landfill is strongly desired by more than ninety percent of the citizens of Citta di Castello and is opposed only “by a few hundred egotists”- referring to those who were present that evening in Cornetto.

h) that the City Council had decided to enlarge Belladanza only because the community of Citta di Castello had stated many times that it was ready to pay any price in order to stop sending its rubbish to Ponte Rio and to stop paying a “tax” on that rubbish to Perugia.

Mayor Cecchini’s concluding comments were greeted by whistles and laughs, which she brushed off by declaring that those present were only offended (almost as if they were children) because they were not consulted beforehand. She went on to state that the Cornetto meeting showed that the citizens of Citta di Castello are in agreement with the doubling of Belladanza, because the majority of them did not show up to oppose it.