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For the Record: 01/31/08

A few things to keep in mind

As has been reported, a formal complaint has been filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleging a pattern of environmental racism on the part of local governments in the matter of the Rogers-Eubanks neighborhood. Such a complaint is serious business and should be thoroughly and properly addressed.

The review of this complaint and the process for resolving the dispute will take time and move at a federal pace. At the same time, the community has to move forward in a number of areas to settle questions about the future of the landfill, our solid-waste strategy and, most specifically, the siting of a waste transfer station.

Now, with the complaint in the mix, there is an extra layer of legal caution about each step, and we’ve already seen a reluctance to discuss the matter on the part of local officials.

This is unfortunate, because it comes at a time when the dialogue was beginning to yield results.

There has also been a considerable amount of work done by a committee of residents, elected officials, landfill management and others to try to find a solution to the concerns of the Rogers-Eubanks neighborhood.

This newspaper, mainly through the efforts of contributing editor Taylor Sisk, has devoted close to 25,000 words to this issue in an attempt to add to the record the kind of background and context necessary when weighing an issue of this kind.

The community, we believe, was inching toward a consensus to take the existing landfill off the table as a site for the transfer station. Now that seems unlikely. Not because it is any less the right thing to do, but because it may affect the outcome of legal proceedings.

It is in everyone’s best interests to get all parties back to the negotiating table again, to try to nail down once and for all a package of amenities for the Rogers and Eubanks roads community and an agreement about the future of the landfill property.

Resolving that is a critical step in devising a new long-term strategy for disposing of our garbage. We need to consider alternatives to the strategy of shipping our waste out of the area, including an aggressive effort to reduce the amount of garbage we each produce in the first place. We need to be thinking, building and planning for our future.

But first we must find a way to reach an agreement on what to do about our past.

A month for reflection and learning

Tomorrow we start Black History Month and with that a month of opportunities to learn more about the history and culture of our community.

We’ve spotlighted a few of those opportunities in this month’s edition of MILL and we encourage you to consider a visit to the ArtsCenter, where starting Feb. 8 there will be photos, scrapbook excerpts and other items on display featuring Carrboro and Chapel Hill’s historically black neighborhoods.

Fortunately, interest in preserving the heritage of these neighborhoods has grown over the past several years and the work of students and volunteers with the ArtsCenter’s “Hidden Voices” project has helped accelerate the recovery of a fading history.

The significance of starting a month-long review of black history on Feb. 1 should not be forgotten. On that day in 1960, four black students at North Carolina A&T sat down at a whites-only counter at Woolworth’s in Greensboro. Though the tremors caused by the Greensboro sit-ins were felt around the South and indeed the world, this community, so close to the epicenter, saw our first sit-in just 21 days later.

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