Take a second and imagine and an 18 story building. The Alico Building stands at 22 stories, so start there for a reference. Next, expand that building over 434 acres (just under two times the size of our campus), and imagine it is no longer a building or a huge shopping mall.
It’s a landfill that has conveniently located next door.
On the way to Houston from Waco, Highway 6 meets 290 and passes, without fanfare, by the small town of Hempstead. This land lacks the allure of a big city, is home to only 5,770 and boasts only of Frazier’s Concrete and the annual watermelon festival. With an annual household income 38 percent below the Texas median, and almost a quarter of the citizens living below the poverty level, Hempstead’s demographics resemble those of Waco with one notable exception: Due to the town’s small size (compared to Waco’s 100,000-plus population), largely minority population and low income level, the citizens lack a voice.
Hempstead is fighting a battle against the Pintail Landfill and Green Group Holdings. Green Group Holdings began plans for the landfill with only the consent of Waller County’s questionable political leadership. Look up Green Group Holdings’ list of paid lobbyists. They have both the money and political influence to overwhelm this community’s efforts to oppose the Pintail Landfill.
The Pintail Landfill will bring in trash primarily from Houston and the surrounding area. Less than 5 percent of the trash will come from Waller County. The proposed Pintail Landfill will have a bigger footprint than the entire town and will be within one mile of Hempstead, two miles of the Waller County Courthouse, three miles of their schools and four miles of the historic Prairie View A&M University. As for the environment, there is the risk that the ground and surface water may be contaminated. Hempstead stands to lose its small businesses, its potential for future economic growth and the creation of much-needed jobs.
On top of the potential destruction of Hempstead, Prairie View A&M stands to lose its growing reputation and draw for students in the area. Can you imagine the pain of being labeled “The Landfill School”?
Like so many of my fellow Baylor students, I love the idea of helping the voiceless. The social justice wave often carries us to fight for our neighbors abroad, but today this opportunity that is much more tangible, and much closer. Prairie View A&M already understands that and is fighting the fight I urge you to join.
On behalf of Hempstead and Prairie View A&M, I urge you to visit stophwy6landfill.com and more importantly, sign the petition found on whitehouse.gov/petitions (click “View Petitions” then search “landfill”) for an inquiry from the federal level that will ensure justice for the citizens of Hempstead and students of Prairie View A&M. The town of around 5,000 needs to collect 25,000 signatures by April 25 to receive this important help.
If the social justice wave sweeps through Central Texas, we can keep a landfill out of our neighbors’ home.
Jared Brimberry is a senior finance and economics major from Katy.