Rev. Yvonne Delk, pastor at the new Macedonia Christian United Church of Christ on Marshall Avenue, called a proposed recycling site in the church’s neighborhood “a moral and justice issue”.
Select Recycling Waste Services, Inc., (SRWS) is attempting to open the facility in the Bruce Park/Barraud Park section of the Norfolk.
The company would collect refuse from construction sites around the region, truck it to the old Globe Iron complex site at 1525 St. Julian’s Avenue and extract recyclable material to be sold.
Rev. Delk pointed out such a facility cannot be within 200 yards of occupied buildings or living space. The church sits closer. Delk said the plan devalues (the housing stock and property values), distracts and dishonors those residents who are primarily African American.
Delk said it a moral issue because “children and adults are defined about what they see and what they breathe.” She said the facility would have a negative impact not only on the church and other buildings but also other outdoor events.
For 33 years Martin Pincus. who is White, said he has lived on Anderson Street in Huntersville and the increased traffic that would be generated by the facility is “absurd”, considering the number of children playing and walking to school.
Pincus said instead of converting the Old Globe Iron site into industrial use, why not build homes for people who will be displaced during the upcoming redevelopment in the city’s downtown area. He said the city already has two other recycling facilities off Virginia Beach Blvd. and Princess Anne Road.
Pincus noted that DeSteph and Meeks live in Portsmouth and they should use land in that city.
These comment and others were made during the May 22 public hearing at the Slover Library called by SRWS.
Rev. Keith I. Jones is the Senior Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Central Brambleton on Park Avenue, blocks away from a scrap recycling facility which sits on land nearby the Booker T. Washington High School.
He said he was speaking for several families who attend his church and live near the proposed recycle site. He said they were a law-abiding people who work to keep their property values up and respect the community “and want the best of their community.”
“This proposal seems to demonstrate an absence of consideration for the people of the community,” he said. “It is an utter lack of respect for people of color by a legislative leader over others.”
Marcus J. Powell, who lives on Maltby Avenue said SRWS’s behavior during the application process appeared to be in “seriously deception” with Norfolk city officials.
Powell, who was raised in Flint, Michigan, said SRWS’s behavior was akin to state and local officials in Michigan who ignored warnings about tainted drinking tap water in his home town. He said all of the Norfolk communities impacted by the facility contain a number of elderly people and aged homes that are being “disrespected.”
He reiterated the fact that many of the school children, including his granddaughter, walk back and forth to school and other venues and the multiple huge trucks flowing down St. Julian’s would be hazardous.
School Board Chair Rodney Jordan is a resident of Park Place and representative of Ward 7 on that panel which encompasses over half of the city.
He chided the SRWS personnel for not scheduling, according to state code, a public hearing at one of the churches or two schools which could have been made available, near the St. Julian’s site. He said no Norfolk Public School officials were contacted about the hearing.
Jordan said he not only holds SRWS accountable for the current situation but also wondered if the Zoning Planning Commission and Hampton Roads Planning Commission which signed off on the proposal last August may be “asleep at the wheel.”
Jordan noted that the GUIDE’s archives have stories about the Black community seeking to push back against such heavy industry as far back as the 30s and 40s.
Carl Stokes, a long time resident of Barraud Park, said the city wants to build a recycling and waste collection, but has failed at developing the area over the past half century
He said damage to the various streets due to existing industrial activity has ruined many of the roads which could impact on the decision by families and individuals to buy any of the new houses being constructed near the site.
He said that despite assurances from the SRWS that it would seek to eliminate leakage of obnoxious materials, the site would attract rodents and birds scavaging for food.
Rev. Ronald J. Knight, pastor of the Union Chapel AME Church for nine years said to the city of Norfolk, “You cannot do this do this again.”
Wright urged the company to “go to these White areas. Those civic leagues have said ‘No’. We’ve got to fight this.”
Dr Linda Horsey, a Clinical Psychologist who lives in Huntersville, said despite current generations being more savvy and informed, thanks to the internet, SRWR managed use “word games” to gain ground on getting an application approved despite the harmful nature of the solid like sludge, hospital waste and other dangerous gaseous waste water.
She said her work on Norfolk School Board and NRHA alerted her of the need for more pubic input. Uninvolved residents are affected negatively, she said, when they do not keep abreast and respond to the development being proposed by SRWS.
Patrick Butler said he and his brother moved into the Lindenwold section five years ago and began redeveloping houses in the area. He has seen a reduction of crime, people taking care of their property and the community on the move upward.
He said that despite assurances by British Petroleum (BP) which caused the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico, SRWS may not be totally honest about securing the facility and preventing hazardous waste water from spewing into the community air and water.
Charlene Christopher, a former NPS educator who taught at one of the nearby schools for over a decade, said she knew the children and the “fragile minority neighborhoods” well. She said over 700 children walk to and from three schools in the area, that is prone to flooding during heavy rains.
The hazardous material, she said, “will not be conducive” to the educational process inside the schools where students are preparing academically, including for the state’s Standards of Leaning.
She asked in light of the DEQ regulations relative to the distance between such a facility and occupied homes “how can a legislator (who knows the rules) approach another city about creating such a site?”
Councilwoman Mamie Johnson (Ward 3) said before SRWS bought the old Globe Iron building and other nearby properties Norfolk had designs on buying it as part of the city’s Master Plan. But the city was out maneuvered by the current owners.
She urged people who attended the May 22 meetings to continue to be vigilant in the coming weeks. Echoing Councilwoman Angelia Williams-Graves, Johnson she said the city was in litigation with the company and needed support from people in the impacted communities.
By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide