Landfill land finally purchased, residents not satisfied

MJ Routh | Multimedia Journalist

By Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer

The Waco City Council approved buying 772 acres of land for a landfill last Tuesday after a year of deliberation.

Last year, there was an uproar in the suburbs when the city wanted to place a new landfill next to the existing one near Old Lorena Road. The city considered three alternatives, all within 15 miles of the city. When the city decided to look at moving the new landfill near Axtell, hundreds of residents protested, citing possible property value decrease, an increased likelihood of birth defects and the idea that their late loved ones would be disrespected, as the site is near two cemeteries.

Joe Dunlap, a resident of Mount Calm, said he is strenuously opposed to both landfill sites, and he is sure the city council members would feel the same way if they were in his position. His and his mother’s properties border the proposed landfill site.

“I have worked in downtown Waco for over 40 years, and … I am a little bit disappointed in the fact that the City of Waco would move to two neighboring counties to install a landfill [there] is very disappointing to me, and I would have never dreamed that I would see that,” Dunlap said.

Gale Siders also spoke in opposition to the landfill site near her son’s grave in Mount Calm. She brought four cemeteries to the attention of the council: TK, Burleson, Mount Calm and Antioch Cemetery. She addressed council members individually and brought their character into question.

“Mr. Meek, I know at the last council meeting, you said that your dad owned property in South Texas,” Siders said at the city council meeting on Sept. 4. “How would you like it if somebody wanted to dump trash in your area? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t like it. I know you were kinda flippant about it that night, and I hope that you really are not that kind of person. I’m not trying to single you out, but I will. On your Facebook profile, you said you are a social justice advocate. I hope that’s really true about you and you really dig into your heart and do something about that.”

Douglas Nesmith, M.S., laboratory coodinator for Baylor’s Department of Environmental Science, explained the dilemma the city faces when deciding where to put the new landfill.

“The city would like to spend as little money as possible on solid waste,” Nesmith said. “To do that, it’s easier to keep it close to the city. If you keep it close to the city, you have more citizens that are close by and opposed to it, so generally they move it further out of town into more rural areas where there’s less opposition.”

Nesmith said the problem the city runs into is that there’s a huge amount of waste that goes into the landfill, and with the amount of plastic society uses, it doesn’t last as long because the plastic doesn’t degrade and fills faster. City council members are in a difficult position because they must find more land for the residents’ waste, but no resident wants the landfill near them, according to Nesmith.