1976 News Article
City of Franklin officials and the development group have publicly discussed methane incidents from the 1990s but make no mention of prior events in their public presentations or development submittals. (See Amended PDD/GDP Submittal p.7 or listen to the presentation by the City Planner and Economic Development official at the January 11, 2016 developer presentation). This demonstrates a lack of City and developer diligence on the site or the proposal. What elected officials and the developer have not acknowledged publicly is that the first methane ignition at the Franklin site actually occurred in 1974. Here is a news article of that 1974 incident. There are two items of note in the article. First, the City did not stop permitting the construction of homes along the landfill even when they became aware of the danger; and, second, a City official is quoted as saying, “As far as we’re concerned, the problem has been taken care of”. Simple economics drove City actions in the past and appear to be doing so again with Ballpark Commons.
Here is a letter from Robert and Naomi Knoll discussing the intrusion of methane in their home. The changes now proposed to the waste gas system and the scope of the development put all nearby residential homes at risk of a new event. Future changes required to the waste gas system will be to accommodate development and will not be for best practices of the operation of this closed landfill. The developer’s planning submission to “[r]edesign and re-program the indoor sports complex from its original design such that is resides off the lines of waste”, is already contradicted by developer notes requesting that the WDNR “allow on-site relocation of waste”. And a developer discussion of the use of “lightweight” and “minimal landfill penetrating” strategies while disturbing potentially hazardous waste and drilling bore holes through the bottom of the fill site is nonsensical.
Milwaukee County Highway / Crystal Ridge Landfill
Here is an aerial map prepared by Milwaukee County that shows the development site north of Rawson Avenue and shows the landfill infrastructure. This is important information for several reasons. First, a close examination of the illustration indicates that the fill site is actually a series of quarry pits or landfills. Each area has its own history and characteristics. Second, the aerial shows the complexity and extent of the waste gas and hazard monitoring system. Third, the aerial indicates just how close fill contents are to private drinking wells. And, finally, the site plan shows how the developer renderings used to build public support could never be constructed as marketed. This misrepresentation by the developer extends to the submissions made to City planners. The amended renderings dated March 7, 2016 still show the proposed albeit now smaller indoor sports facility on fill contents. But the developer has left the door open for “two or more separate buildings”. This latest plan is far different than the original concept used to “sell” the plan to Franklin citizens, elected officials and the media.
Here are notes from the Ballpark Commons developer showing that the geotechnical analysis required for the project contemplates the drilling of boreholes through the landfill and the bottom of the fill site. The developer is also requesting permission to relocate potentially hazardous fill contents. Again, this requires the landfill closure plan to be modified. Why would Milwaukee County agree to either of these requests when it has no commercial liability insurance carrier? The only reason to do so is financial. How can these actions be in the best long term interests of County taxpayers and protect the safety of residential neighbors?
Sample Sound Study
A sound study for the recently constructed minor league baseball stadium in Columbia, South Carolina is included here to help the surrounding community understand the sound contours anticipated for the Franklin site. Separately, an email to the City’s Economic Development Director is provided describing the site difficulties for managing the sound contours. The developer writes “[o]ur analysis and research suggest that the Ballpark Commons development would not create a compounding issue of light and noise.” In response, we simply ask one question. What analysis and research? The characteristics of the landfill and current operating history have already demonstrated that sound cannot be successfully managed at this site.
WDNR Enforcement Letters
Here is just a sample of correspondence between the WDNR and Milwaukee County for past environmental releases. These letters show serious violations of environmental standards and Federal and State requirements. A full review of all correspondence would indicate that the County showed significantly more regard for the health of County finances than the consequences of its actions on nearby neighbors. Now the County is back in the business of cashing in on the landfill site as a co-applicant in the development of Ballpark Commons. To date, they have shown little regard for how their past actions make this development site potentially dangerous for residential neighbors. They have not even followed the requirements of their own due diligence ordinance that requires the conduct of environmental studies. The plan to punch holes through the bottom of the fill site and move landfill contents which are potentially hazardous are not consistent with good management of closed landfill sites. Based on the hazards described in past environmental releases residents could again be exposed to releases of heavy metals, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) and other carcinogens through ground water. But as importantly, all potential users of the Rock and Ballpark Commons, if entitled, should want to know the volume of PCBs, VOCs, ethylene oxide and benzene emitted through the air at the site. The emission of methane to the atmosphere also has consequences. Methane emitted passively acts as a carrier of these carcinogens as byproducts that also get released to the air.