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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1.  I thought of purchasing one

     I thought of purchasing one of the town homes on the eastern perimeter of the site last year. Then I discovered that the operations begin at 7 AM every day except Sunday, and that when ever a truck unloads, the vibrations can be felt in the house. 

    As for the smell…it was late winter and the odors were not too apparent. HOWEVER,  if anyone even drives down Church when the temperature is above 50 degrees. The odor of garbage extends beyond Dodge and goes as far as east as a block before Ridge…

    While "not in my backyard" might seem like a battle cry… in reality, the operators of the station should simply be good neighbors and clean up their act (pun intended)…My hunch is that they are just trying to get away with as much as possible and keep their profits up. 

    Tell them to clean up the operation by such and such date or hit them with so many fines and injunctions that cleaning up will be cheaper….

    Sometimes, when companies say one thing and do another, you stop listening and do what’s needed. 

    Sock it to them!

  2. When did it FIRST open?

    The article states that State permits were issued 20 years ago, but when did the transfer station first open? 

    Sorry, I have absolutely no sympathy for Evanston Lofts, the residents there, or the owners.  Did they somehow miss seeing the transfer station when they bought the location? Did they miss seeing it during renovations? Did they even LOOK at the neighborhood before they bought or moved in? They should have looked at what was already in their backyard before crying NIMBY.

    While there may be problems rising from the transfer station, why did it not fall to the Building Dept or Sanitation to oversee rodent infestations or the "Blight on the neighborhod" it has become?

    Now the push is on to force yet another BUSINESS out of Evanston. Force another EMPLOYER out. What would the fiscal impact be to the city to LOSE the station? Does the city use the facility? Local handlers? What is the fuel cost impact on using a station further away? What is the cost of loss of jobs?  Industrial tax?

    Then what? Another empty lot to gather trash and broken bottles? Another fenced-in gathering place for illegal and illicit activity? Maybe someone will build another set of lofts or condos that lie unrented and unrentable in a downward spiraling economy.

    Maybe the city could get the property for a song (after all, it DID used to be a dump) and build a new city hall there.  THAT at least would be ironically fitting, but I fear the foul stench of government will be worse than the garbage.


    1. When did it become a bad

      When did it become a bad thing to try to improve ones own neighborhood? Just because the transfer station may or may not have been in the neighborhood first doesn’t mean they can do whatever they please.  With your logic anyone who moved into a neighborhood with crime can’t complain or do anything about it because the crime was there first.

      Many residents have lived in this neighborhood well before the transfer station was allowed to operate. Just because one townhouse developement was built next to the transfer station doesn’t mean the residents in the area can’t work for positive changes in the neighborhood.

      The transfer station does not operate according to its industry’s best practices. They have not been a good neighbor and until recently have made very little effort to be a good neighbor. At the very least the station should start adapting the best practices and also start following local ordinances that all other businesses must follow.

      You also cite the loss of jobs as part of your complaint. Do you know how many people are employed at the station? 3 full time employees and one part time employee. I believe only two actually live in Evanston. If the transfer station is moved to a more suitable location these jobs would also move. No one should lose their jobs.

      1. Typical Anti-Business Evanston Attitude

        I’d consider rethinking this a bit.

        Your basic logic is that the owner should bear all the costs of the move and finding a new location.  That should greatly improve the owner’s profitability and ability to keep the employees.  However, if he cannot afford it, it’s only 3-4 employees who in this economy should be able to find a job in a couple days and likely with better pay.  Even if they can’t find jobs, the city could always issue some bonds, buyout the transfer station, open a branch library and staff it with 3-4 union employees who can retire at 50 at that location.  Win win in all circumstances.  I like it.

        Meanwhile, in the real world, the rest of us realize that these small businesses that you dismiss as small and expendable because you did not properly the diligence the purchase of your townhome:

        •    Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
        •    Employ half of all private sector employees.
        •    Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
        •    Generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.
        •    Create more than half of the nonfarm private GDP.
        •    Hire 43 percent of high tech workers ( scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and others).
        •    Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.

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