NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Friday February 26th 2021

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Letter to the editor: Garbage!

By MYRTLE LARSON

 Myrtle Larson was approximately 80 years old and lived on 16th Avenue near 28th Street when she wrote this letter. The new Garbage Transfer Station was never built. 

“Over fifty years ago I took a course in Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. The professor who taught the course was Dr. I. William Geiger. He was very special. He was a dedicated conservationist and environmentalist. He taught us that waste materials could be transformed into useful products. One such product is methanol which could be used for energy to run automobiles. We asked him why methanol was not being produced then and he said, “Oh, I suppose it is easier just to drill a hole in the ground and pump the oil out.” And, of course, he taught us that waste could be transformed into fertilizer to return to the soil. And so, we have been pumping out our precious deposits of fossil fuel at an alarming rate—not only for gasoline but for myriads of other things. It is difficult to look around and find something that does not have some relationship with fossil fuels. I have been practicing Dr. Geiger’s teaching for nigh onto a half century. It has been a rewarding, fulfilling, flourishing life. The fruits of frugality are mighty sweet. I am over 80 years old now and I am still making compost to return to the soil. The people of this country have become wasteful, extravagant and careless. I am deeply concerned about what the future holds in store for us. Unfortunately, those who share this concern are in the minority. This minority must now be heard. Now, Hennepin County proposes to build a five story garbage transfer station right in the heart of the residential and food distribution area 28th Street and Longfellow Avenue. It is proposed that each day 280 garbage trucks will bring 400 to 700 tons of municipal waste to this station. This waste will be unloaded, compacted, and re-loaded into 20 ton trailers and routed to the downtown incinerator. The proposed garbage transfer station will also be a drop-off area for recyclable material including household hazardous waste. 

The ramifications of this proposal are frightening and mind boggling. A project of this magnitude would in all probability turn out to be a round the clock ordeal. The constant rumbling of all of these trucks would create a continuous earthquake destroying not only the roads but also the sewer system. The high level of exhaust fumes and the stench from the garbage would make breathing almost impossible. The noise created would be deafening. I have been hoping that my golden days might be spent in peaceful, tranquil dignity, but instead I think I will be buried alive in garbage and dirty plastic diapers. As I am forced to take my degraded, ignominious departure from this poor, tired, exploited Earth, I will go down screaming: IT IS ALMOST AS DIFFICULT TO MAKE NOTHING OUT OF SOMETHING AS IT IS TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING, SO QUIT GENERATING SO DAMN MUCH GARBAGE. IF WE CAN GET TO THE MOON WE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO TAKE CARE OF OUR GARBAGE. 

A button from the Era 

During this time period, a 10-acre garbage transfer station was to be built by Hennepin County to handle Minneapolis’s garbage. It would have stood in the corner of East Phillips that still hosts the old City of Minneapolis’ solid waste recycling transfer station and what is now called the Greenway Building. It would have been adjacent to the Pioneer and Soldiers Cemetery and in the “backyard” of Little Earth Community. Over 750 City of Minneapolis garbage compactor truck trips would have rolled down Cedar Avenue daily to access the facility. Our City councilmember at that time referred to residents who were protesting this endeavor as “gnats” because of our relentless actions to prevent the transfer station from being built. We spun this into N.A.T.S—–Neighbors Against the Transfer Station. The best news, we prevented the garbage transfer station from being built, period. It was not built in Phillips, it was not built anywhere because Phillips Community residents were able to prove the transfer station was not needed (because the garbage data being used at the time was outdated), saving Hennepin County approximately 10 million dollars. —- Susan Gust

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