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Neighbors raise a stink about transfer station

About a dozen neighbors met with city officials in an empty loft on Darrow Avenue Wednesday evening to exchange complaints about the garbage transfer station next door.

Muffy McAuley, Tina Galbreath, Wally Bobkiewicz, Brian Scruggs and Delores Holmes at the meeting.

Muffy McAuley of Evanston Lofts, which owns the building where the group met, said foul odors and other problems with the transfer station on Church Street owned by Veolia Environmental Services have been a constant annoyance for years.

She said she and her partner, John Leineweber, had found a host of environmental problems caused by the transfer station when they renovated the Strange Lofts property.

Alderman Delores Holmes, whose 5th Ward includes much of the neighborhood near the site, said she's amazed that the transfer station operation could have been allowed when state permits for it were issued nearly two decades ago.

She said there have been some improvements in the operation over the years, but that it's still a blight on the neighborhood.

"We need to figure out what it would take to get them to move out of Evanston," Holmes added.

Tina Galbreath, who said she takes care of an aunt who's 100 years old and lives at 1716 Darrow Ave., said there are still major issues with with odors and rodent infestations from the Veolia site.

She added that she's worried about the long-term health effects of living near the property.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the current city proposal to impose a $2 a ton fee on garbage transfered at the station had created a new level of interest in the station's operation.

The residents said they hoped the new revenue source would not give the city a vested interest in keeping the transfer station in town.

Several residents claimed that when confronted about the transfer station's operations, Veolia officials say they've never received any complaints, even though residents have been calling and writing to complain frequently.

McAuley said that the company promised several years ago to move all transfer operations inside an enclosed building that would keep odors from the trash inside. "But instead what they put up is a shed that's completely open to the air," McAuley said, "they're not dumping inside."

The waste transfer fee proposal is scheduled for a final vote by the City Council on Monday, Nov. 15.

Holmes said she's invited Veolia officials to a ward meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St., to discuss the plant's operation.

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