Developers win on dump

After nearly 15 years of studies, public debates and contentious City Council meetings, the final option for cleanup of the old Humboldt Road Burn Dump is now in the state’s hands. The City Council’s decision to adopt the plan least favored by the neighbors, environmentalists and interested observers who for years have followed the evolution of the process may save some money but is an insult to those concerned citizens.

They supported a plan to accumulate the toxic dirt in two “cells,” one on each side of Bruce Road, and then cap them. Instead the adopted plan calls for just one cell, but since the toxins are on both sides of the road, some 2,900 truck trips across Bruce Road, carrying a total of 15,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with lead and various carcinogens, will now be required.

For years the overall plan was for the city to share the cost of cleaning up the entire 157 acres of property under consideration, including large sections of privately owned land that were once the sites of privately operated burn dumps. The current council, which was established in the November 2002 election, rightly decided last December that the city should clean up only land its actions helped contaminate through the operation of the city/county dump. Private property owners were asked to submit evidence that the city was liable for any other contamination. None did.

But this week the council, absent Coleen Jarvis, not only could not muster the votes for the two-cell option, it also decided to clean up some privately owned property for future commercial development. In the end it bowed to development interests over those of the average citizen.