Should haz waste drop go NE?


A nice, convenient place to take unwanted household chemicals and construction waste, or the site of a future “burner”? About 40 residents attending a town meeting of the Windom Park Citizens in Action (WPCiA) and Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA) wrapped their heads around a proposal for a seven to eight-acre site in the industrial area between them. In the end, they appointed what one of the most vocal residents called “a well-balanced” task force to further study it.

Minneapolis residents cleaning out their garages, basements, etc. can bring old and unwanted household chemicals, paints and thinners to a 2.1-acre site at Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue, or to Hennepin County transfer stations in Bloomington or Brooklyn Park. If they bring construction waste such as old kitchen cabinets, plaster, and carpet, they can bring it to the South Transfer Station at Lake and Hiawatha, where it sits outside with its dust blowing around, or to a Hennepin County transfer station where it’s processed inside.

“Transfer” means wastes are collected and then shipped out in bulk by type, all over the country once a week, or every two weeks in winter. By Pollution Control Agency rules, they can be stored up to 30 days. At the Hennepin County facilities, still-viable chemicals and paints are placed on shelves where other consumers can take and use them.

City and County officials are looking to jointly operate a waste-collection site within the city of Minneapolis, a challenge because there are few industrial areas with enough acreage. A vacant lot adjacent to the former Dayton’s Warehouse, 701 Industrial Boulevard, is one of them. Officials said it has enough space to enclose their operations, plus room for vehicles to easily pull in, through and out, and have demonstration rain gardens to handle their storm water runoff. Community meeting space would be available. This site would take the place of the South site, and would be an additional Hennepin County site.

There are no designs on paper, however. The city and county are just starting to negotiate with the property owner, JJ Taylor, a beer distributor, they said, and have just received the appraisal, according to Paul Miller of the City of Minneapolis. Hennepin County has also looked at a site at 620 Malcolm Avenue, which they found “very expensive.”

Nancy Przymus of Windom Park said the “elephant in the room” is residents’ fear that this will open the door, that “the Kandiyohi bio-mass burner could be next” on a site that large and undefined. South Minneapolis residents successfully fought a burner that would have been placed in the Midtown area by a private company.

Susan Young, the city’s “trash lady” (Solid Waste and Recycling Director) said “the city did not initiate on bio-mass. A third function would not fit on that site.”

“But what if the post office (nearby) sells?” asked Brad Rosenberger from Waite Park neighborhood. “That would create a larger site.”

Young answered, “they can sell to whoever they want, but there will be no feed stock from us for a biomass facility. It’s not cost-effective.” A Hennepin County representative echoed that the county also has no interest in another burner (they operate HERC, the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center).

Many residents commenting referred to a shaded map showing the highest concentrations of facility users are closest to the Hennepin County facilities.

Mark Snyder of Windom Park said he wants “a convenient place to take stuff to. I go to Bloomington. I know people do put stuff in the garbage that doesn’t belong there.”

Minneapolis has an apparent lower use rate, with no big concentration around the South site. Occasional waste collection days in the neighborhoods attract many residents, and are quite expensive to conduct, a Hennepin County official said.

Other issues raised:

Cost and source of funds? About $18 million; $10 million from Hennepin County’s capital budget with money generated from the solid waste management fee, plus $8 million from the city’s solid waste fund, an “enterprise fund” from recycling revenues. The Capital Long Range Improvements Committee (CLIC) which rates projects, “liked that we brought our own funds,” said Young.

What about traffic through the neighborhood? Officials said they post routing directions that guide people to major streets, and trucks use truck routes. It was universally agreed that the Broadway exit from Highway 280 should be re-opened to allow access, and ire that “MNDOT used the bridge collapse to accomplish” closing it, Wendy Menken said.

Joan Menken, who sat on a Southeast Minneapolis Industrial area (SEMI) committee, said the highest and best use of the site would be job-creating businesses, and said the area already had a high concentration of waste-related facilities.

Lois Kelly of Windom Park asked about fire hazards, and the possibility of spills. Louisa Tallman of Hennepin County said there had been no “releases” (spills) at Bloomington, where Kelly had concentrated her research. The new facility would have even better separations between areas and lock down if a fire started.

For information about the task force’s progress, call the WPCiA office, 612-788-2192 or email