TO THE EDITOR
Not in my (former) backyard
To the Editor,
Several corrections are needed for last week’s editorial, “Ghosts of Decades Past”.
The BFI landfill project was proposed in 1995, and the project was abandoned after the Marion County Planning Commission refused to grant a conditional use permit in 1997, by a vote of 8 to 1. The Marion County Commission upheld the planning commission’s decision.
The BFI landfill project was opposed by the Hillsboro Star Journal (independently owned then) publishing many editorials countering the ardent landfill supporter, Bill Meyer, editor of the Marion County Record. The Peabody Gazette also opposed the landfill project.
I was a Marion County representative sitting on the Central Kansas Solid Waste Authority (made up of Marion, McPherson, Harvey and Dickinson Counties). The BFI landfill proposal was opposed and did not conform to the waste authority’s plans. BFI, while invited, would not attend the Central Kansas Solid Waste Authority meetings.
The 1996 Marion County Commission election was won by an anti-landfill candidate.
The Wichita and surrounding area waste stream was estimated to be 2,500 tons per day requiring at least 100 trucks.
That amounts to a lot of fuel expended and heavy traffic on rural Marion County roads had the landfill been built. Marion County had a solid waste stream of 15 tons per day in 1995.
At this point in time, had the landfill been sited, Marion County would have well over 20 million tons of municipal solid waste piled up north of Aulne.
This mountain of waste would be the legacy for future generations of Marion County residents to deal with because history tells us that ultimately the government has to deal with solid waste problems after the money is made by the private waste companies. What the editor characterizes as a NIMBY action was really quite the opposite, a democratic process that reflected the will of the residents at that point in time.
Harry E. Bennett
Editor’s note: The editorial was not in reference to a Browning-Ferris Industries proposal to take over an environmentally challenged county dump near Aulne. It referred instead to a later proposal by Waste Management to reclaim quarried land north of US-56, which had been added to the Marion city limits.
That plan would have used only federal highways, and waste would have been buried, not piled up, to repair environmental injury caused by decades of quarrying.
Opponents’ anti-urban sloganeering and continual mischaracterization of the later plan with references to the earlier plan was a key reason for the plan’s rejection, which has cost the area tens of millions of dollars — and the total keeps rising.