12 03 2006

The once-quiet attempt to sneak a for-profit landfill into that old quarry site on the banks of the Harpeth has been getting a lot of publicity lately. There will be a community meeting at Bellevue Middle School at 6:30 PM on Thursday, March 30, with Rep. Moore, Sen. Henry, and probably several other members of state and local government. A corps of volunteers is distributing anti-dump fliers to area residents, the neighborhood newspaper and a local TV station have done features on it. I am very happy to see all this action. Makes me think there’s hope for the country yet.

The current owners and would-be buyers of the site (it turns out that their offer to buy is contingent on approval of the site as a dump) are threatening to reopen it as a quarry if the dump proposal gets stopped. I guess they think we have short memories—when they went before the Solid Waste Board back in December, they were SO concerned about how dangerous the open pit quarry was and so unctuous about what a great public service they would be doing by filling it in (which, it turns out, could bring them about thirty million dollars). Now they’re willing to make it deeper and more dangerous if they don’t get their way. Reminds me of a certain chief executive I know…..

But that threat is pretty hollow—since the quarry has been closed, it has lost its permit, and the quarry permitting process is even more bureaucratic and fraught with pitfalls than the dump process, from what I hear, and would certainly be less popular with the neighbors. Even people who don’t care about 200,000 dump trucks might get upset about daily dynamite—know what I mean?

Furthermore, there’s two technical details that they’re up against. The most obvious is the roughly two million gallons of water in the bottom of the quarry. I don’t think they’d be able to get a permit to pump it into the Harpeth River, and there’s no place else for it to go. The second is that, apparently, one of the reasons the quarry closed in the first place is that the Tennessee Department of Transportation decided that the quality of rock coming out of this quarry was too poor to use in road construction.

I must admit, that one surprised me. I had no idea TDOT had quality standards about ANYTHING. By the way, did you know that there’s a bill snaking its way through the Tennessee legislature that will enable TDOT to resume its program to pave over the entire state? It’s called “An Act to Amend the Tennessee Code Annotated, Titles 3, 4, and 54 relative to transportation.” What a mouthful. I bet they called it that to discourage people from contacting their representatives and complaining about it.

This bill would set up a committee of the legislature that will oversee the distribution of pork—excuse me, I mean the construction of new highways, and severely limit the amount of TDOT’s overample budget that can be spent on mass transit in the cities where most of us live and pay gas taxes. As if the price of gas isn’t about to hit black-market levels. Haven’t you noticed that the cost of a full gas tank and the cost of a bag of pot are approaching parity? The cluelessness of people in power continues to amaze and dismay me. But, I digress….

This dump is not likely to go through if enough people contact Sen. Henry (sen.douglas.henry@legislature.state.tn.us) and Rep. Moore(rep.gary.moore@legislature.state.tn.us) and object, and if plenty of people show up at Bellevue Middle School, 655 Colice-Jean Road, at 6:30 PM on Thursday, March 30. Senators Henry and Haynes (the sponsor of this measure) will be there, as will Rep. Moore, Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard, Jim Fyke from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and who knows who else. Please be there if you can. Bellevue Middle School, 655 Colice-Jean Road, runs south off Harding Rd. just past old Hickory. See you there!

music: Pointer Sisters, “Yes We Can Can”  (sorry, all i could find was a Harry Connick version!)



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