The pollution from the city’s proposed plan to expand its public works facility at Hiawatha and E. 26th would affect a majority of South Minneapolis, pointed out representatives of the East Philips Neighborhood Institute which released a map showing the extent of the area affected.
The city’s plan is to demolish the iconic Sears warehouse/Roof Depot building, and replace it with a series of sheds for 400 commercial city vehicles (most of them diesel), a hot asphalt storage facility, and multi-story parking ramp for the 400 employee vehicles that would be coming and going twice a day. No water will be treated on the site; that is done at 4500 Reservoir Blvd. in Columbia Heights.
EPNI supporters point out that while national news covers the city’s settlement regarding the horrific killing of George Floyd, “the Minneapolis City Council is simultaneously in the middle of a land grab that will directly harm Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities in East Phillips. This is happening near the epicenter of last year’s collective trauma. It is in the middle of a Green Zone, and goes against the city’s own Climate Emergency Declaration. It is also illegal – the Clark-Berglund Environmental Justice Law prevents this.” The community has proposed using the building for an indoor urban farm, affordable housing, and incubator for small businesses along the Midtown Greenway.
The city has announced it will tear down the building in April.
After pressure from neighborhood groups, the city completed an environmental assessment worksheet in February. “The city’s current EAW is flawed and leaves out decades of cumulative pollution and the negative health impacts our low-income, BIPOC community has experienced,” pointed out EPNI representatives. They had asked the city to hire an outside agency to write the EAW, and are pushing for a more substantive environmental impact statement.
EPNI is suing the city. “Unfortunately, to have the case heard and to continue the fight for environmental rights in court, we need to raise $100,000 to stop the city’s proposed demolition of the Roof Depot building,” said representatives.