Bridgeton Landfill funds

Distributing Bridgeton Landfill funds

The Bridgeton community is being invited to participate in the allocation of a $12.5 million Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund

By Charlotte Beard

In 2013, the state filed a lawsuit due to the subsurface smoldering reaction at the Bridgeton Landfill located in Bridgeton. On June 29, 2018, the lawsuit between the Missouri Attorney General on behalf of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Republic Services (Bridgeton’s parent company), Allied Services, and Bridgeton Landfill, LLC was settled. One of the terms of the settlement created a $12.5 million Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund. As a result, the Bridgeton community is being invited to participate in the allocation of those funds.

St. Louis Community Foundation’s Elizabeth George, Director of Philanthropic Advising, and Neosha Franklin, Communications Coordinator, are working to help ensure the involvement of those who are impacted by the project. The first community meeting has already taken place and the next one will be Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Foundry Arts Center located at 520 N Main Center in St. Charles. The next two meetings will take place on Dec. 4 at Pattonville Heights Middle School located at 195 Fee Fee Rd in Maryland Heights from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.), and Dec. 8 at St. Louis Area Foodbank, Hunger Engagement Center located at 70 Corporate Woods Dr. in Bridgeton from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Prior to the community meetings, the foundation, which will be managing the distribution of the funds, conducted over 30 interviews and small group meeting with close to 75 people. The community meetings will focus on the possible initiatives that fall into the list developed by The Missouri Attorney General on behalf of the Missouri Department of Natural Resource and Republic Services, Allied Services, and Bridgeton Landfill, LLC.  The initiatives include physical health, behavioral health, healthy living and community greening, basic needs, youth and family services and public safety. All initiatives must promote the betterment of the environment, public health and safety.

The foundation’s representatives shared, “The settlement specifically states that the funds must be used for the communities affected by the subsurface reaction, including St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and St. Charles County, provided; however, that priority shall be given to funding projects and initiatives that are located within, or which shall primarily impact or benefit persons located within, a four mile radius of the Bridgeton Landfill. Our focus is on funding initiatives and projects that will physically be within the four-mile radius and/or those that will positively impact people living and/or working within that four-mile radius.”

The representatives also shared that any 501(c)3 nonprofit that wants to be granted funds as a part of this project to serve the community does not need to exist within the four-mile radius, but the project or initiative must be located within or serve the people who live and/or work within the four-mile radius.

“No funds have been allocated as of yet,” stated representatives. “The community meetings are the last step in our process to determine community needs and interests for the use of the funds before issuing requests for proposals from 501(c)3 nonprofits. We anticipate that the first request for proposals will be issued early in 2019.”

The St. Louis Community Foundation wants to ensure that the public is aware that the Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund cannot be used for any of these reasons: payments to individuals; direct or indirect acquisition of any real property; the support of any type of legal proceeding; the reimbursement or payment for any past expenses, damages, or losses incurred by any person; or any project or initiative created or funded by the state of Missouri. However, distributions to fund any environmental cleanup project authorized by Missouri law will be allowed.

The St. Louis Community Foundation representatives stated that they have four years to distribute the funds; not all funds will be distributed in 2019.

“Some funds will go to smaller projects and some will be earmarked for larger projects,” stated the representatives, “based on community needs and interests. We envision that the distribution for larger projects will take longer; thus, we will thoughtfully and diligently be working towards identification, selection and support for these larger projects. We are honored to be entrusted with the Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund and are committed to using these funds for the betterment of the impacted community.”

The community project fund is just one component of the settlement and does not single-handedly address needs that may arise due to the status of the Bridgeton Landfill. Other sources indicate that the maintenance and mitigation of the landfill will continue under the supervision of the state.

Republic Services, Inc., has guaranteed performance of those activities, and secured a $26 million bond and agreed to provide $61 million of additional funding to assure future performance of those obligations. In addition, Bridgeton was ordered to pay $3.5 million in penalties and damages to the state.

On June 29, Josh Hawley, now United States Senator-elect, stated, “After years of hard-fought litigation, we have reached an agreement that holds Bridgeton accountable and recognizes the ongoing challenges faced by community. This agreement provides a path forward to ensure that the site will remain controlled and stable, and that it will continue to be closely monitored and studied under the supervision of the state. This agreement does not end our engagement with the landfill, but rather represents an ongoing commitment to ensure the site is controlled, and the community protected. Our hope is that this settlement is a first step toward allowing the community to begin the healing process.”
All community meetings for the project fund are open to the public. Though not required, the public is asked to RSVP to bridgetoncpf@stlgives.org with the date you plan to attend.