In an unqualified victory for residents of Washington Park and South Providence, a proposed garbage depot will not be built in the midst of these frontline communities.
Last month, we helped raise the alarm about this dangerous proposal. The garbage depot – and the dust, odor, traffic, and water pollution that would come with it – would have forced more pollution on communities already overburdened by other nearby industrial facilities.
The reckless proposal spurred weeks of community action, during which Washington Park and South Providence residents and business owners repeatedly spoke out against the depot. State and city leaders, as well as the mayor of Providence, also raised their voices in opposition.
Washington Park Association leader Linda Perri, who worked tirelessly to galvanize opposition, said it best: “This is a win for our community. No longer are we to be looked at as a dumping ground.” The impactful opposition to the garbage depot shows what can be achieved when residents, community leaders, business owners, advocates, and elected officials team up to amplify their collective voice.
NO to the Garbage Depot; YES to Community Empowerment
The proposed transfer station would have brought 2,500 tons of waste per day to neighborhoods with some of the highest asthma rates in the state. But Washington Park and South Providence residents refused to stand idly by while a developer pushed to build yet another toxic facility in their neighborhood.
Banning together in opposition, residents were joined by leaders at the city and state level, including City Councilor Pedro Espinal and Council President Sabina Matos; state Senators Joshua Miller, Ana Quezada, Harold Metts, and Maryellen Goodwin; and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. Local organizations and businesses like Sunrise Providence, Meeting Street School, NO LNG in PVD, Providence Community Health Centers, and the NAACP Providence Branch also stood up and joined the fight.
In a significant blow to the proposal, a February 27 City Plan Commission staff report concluded that the garbage depot would violate the Providence Zoning Ordinance. The staff report echoed legal analysis first developed by local attorney and former City Councilor Sam Zurier. Following the staff report, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza joined the opposition chorus.
Faced with these headwinds, the garbage depot developer had little choice but to withdraw its polluting proposal.
Standing Alongside Frontline Communities
It remains possible that the developer could submit a new or modified application for the garbage depot to the City Plan Commission. In that event, CLF is prepared to once again stand alongside these frontline neighborhoods to protect residents’ health and the environment.
Working together, the coalition that opposed the garbage depot was greater than the sum of its parts and boosted community empowerment in the face of a polluting proposal.