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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

White Street Landfill to remain closed for now

(David Kinchen)

On Sept. 20, Gate City Waste Management, the company the Greensboro city council chose to manage the White Street Landfill, withdrew from negotiations on a contract a few hours before a public hearing was scheduled to take place on the matter.

“As a lifelong resident and businessman in this community, I had sincerely hoped to do something positive for the White Street Landfill neighborhoods and the people of Greensboro,” wrote Gate City partner D.H. Griffin Sr. in a letter to the city, according to the News & Record. “Those actions no longer appear possible”

Whether the landfill would be reopened has been a controversial issue since the city council first began considering it more than three years ago. The city currently ships its trash to Montgomery County. The idea of reopening the landfill was put forth to save the city money.

“If there are decisions we’ve made in our past and they are costing taxpayers millions of dollars, we’ve got to revisit that,” said former Councilman Mike Barber in 2008, according to the News & Record.

Still, others objected to the idea.

“Who wants to live across the street from a waste dump?” said senior Hannah Early in an email interview. “That alone sends a message to those people. ‘We don’t care about you or your health and wellness. You’re disposable citizens.'”

The White Street Landfill is also located in a predominately black neighborhood. The possibility of reopening it has been seen by some as a case of environmental racism.

“What would happen if this was opened up across from Guilford, or some other affluent neighborhood?” said Alyzza-May Callahan ‘10, a Bonner Center staff member.

The city council voted unanimously to continue its current contract until the end of the year, meaning the White Street Landfill will not be reopened anytime soon.

A march against the White Street Landfill organized by Ignite Greensboro was scheduled for the day of the hearing. When news spread about Gate City Waste Management pulling out, the protest turned into a celebration.

“I immediately got on the megaphone and announced it to the crowd, and everyone began cheering,” said Director of Ignite Greensboro and NC Agricultural and Technical State University senior Cherrell Brown in an email interview. “It was surreal, like a movie moment.”

Early commented on the moment as well.

“It was so powerful to see so 200 people united around a common goal and issue,” Early said.

The energy of the protest exploded as victory was achieved for the marchers.

“Students tweeted immediately that they felt powerful, and they believed that they changed something and made a difference,” said Brown. “That is so powerful and important for students to recognize and own that.”

“It is a powerful achievement because of the participation in democratic processes; we can make a difference,” said Callahan.

Though the White Street Landfill will remain closed for now, the issue may come back in the future.

“The problem is still there,” said Mayor Bill Knight, according to the News & Record. “It hasn’t gone away.”

Some council members are excited about the prospect of new possibilities. Councilwoman T. Dianne Bellamy-Small said that she supports some new long-range planning for solid waste, according to the News & Record.

“We can now look at the other alternatives — as long as it doesn’t mean using the White Street Landfill,” Bellamy-Small said, according to the News & Record.

Callahan agrees that a better solution is necessary.

“It is critical to find a solution right now,” said Callahan. “Perhaps to minimize waste and to be more conscious of what is being done with our trash.”

The issue is now expected to be something the new city council will have to deal with after the upcoming elections.

“Students and other folks of Greensboro have got to get out and vote for city council members that are going to fight this fight with us,” said Early. “We need a city council that is more involved and more concerned with the people of Greensboro and less concerned with filling their pockets and the pockets of their friends.”

Brown said that Ignite Greensboro will be working on voter awareness to help educate people about what each candidate thinks about the White Street Landfill.

“We hope the students come out and vote, so we can dispose of this issue once and for all,” said Brown. 

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