Northeast Times

Coke Factory and Winzinger plant concern Bridesburg

The new Win­zinger re­cyc­ling plant on Hed­ley Street in Brides­burg (pic­tured) has raised some neigh­bors con­cerns about air pol­lu­tion. PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DAN ADAIR

With in­creased at­tend­ance and com­munity in­terest, the Brides­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation is seek­ing to make neigh­bors’ voices heard about how far loc­al in­dustry can go.

Two big things are cur­rently wor­ry­ing Brides­burg.

Fred Beck­er, vice pres­id­ent of the BCA, said there are a couple of is­sues at the fore­front of Brides­burg res­id­ents’ con­cerns — the fu­ture of the va­cant former Phil­adelphia Coke Fact­ory site, between Bucki­us and Or­tho­dox streets, and Win­zinger Re­cyc­ling, the con­crete re­cyc­ling plant on Hed­ley Street.

Re­gard­ing the Coke Fact­ory site, Beck­er said that the BCA’s Feb­ru­ary meet­ing saw 75 con­cerned res­id­ents, all clam­or­ing for an­swers to the Coke Fact­ory site is­sues.

“Usu­ally, we have six to sev­en people,” Beck­er said.

City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on (D-6th dist.) in­tro­duced a bill to City Coun­cil in Decem­ber 2012 to rezone the Coke prop­erty as in­dus­tri­al. That bill is now be­ing held in Coun­cil due to the strong neigh­bor­hood op­pos­i­tion, rep­res­en­ted in large part at last month’s BCA meet­ing.

Now, at the BCA’s March 7 meet­ing, the Win­zinger con­crete re­cyc­ling plant had drawn res­id­ents’ ire. Win­zinger’s oth­er loc­a­tion in the River Wards is in Port Rich­mond.

With piles of con­crete rubble two stor­ies high and a re­cently gran­ted vari­ance to use a massive con­crete “crush­er” – des­pite op­pos­i­tion from the civic as­so­ci­ation – res­id­ents are con­cerned the re­cyc­ling plant will add to air pol­lu­tion, as well as noise and traffic prob­lems em­an­at­ing from the site.

“En­vir­on­ment­al ef­fects, noise level, wa­ter run-off, dust in the air, safety, prox­im­ity of noise to the houses,” BCA pres­id­ent Kathy Eng­gass­er lis­ted as res­id­ents’ con­cerns cited in a let­ter they sent to the city Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment op­pos­ing per­mis­sion for Win­zinger to use the crush­er. “They’re not good neigh­bors. They’re not go­ing to be good neigh­bors in the fu­ture.”

However, the per­mis­sion was gran­ted – and now Eng­gass­er said their only op­tion to stop it is a costly ap­peal, which could cost up­wards of $5,000.

They are cur­rently search­ing for solu­tions and look­ing for ideas – like one res­id­ent’s sug­ges­tion that they seek a pro bono, or free, at­tor­ney.

“The crush­ing ma­chine’s a mon­ster,” said loc­al Rich Rimkunas, 74, whose grand­daugh­ter at­tends school just 100 yards from where Win­zinger’s open-air con­crete crush­er will likely op­er­ate. “Win­zinger’s not go­ing to help us.”

Dan Adair, a Garden Street res­id­ent, said that Win­zinger is the cur­rent biggest prob­lem in the area, but there’s no clear way out of the situ­ation.

“We don’t want them go­ing any fur­ther than they already have,” Adair said.

Win­zinger man­ager Phil Ay­del­lothe said plans are still up in the air and the con­crete crush­er may not ac­tu­ally go in­to op­er­a­tion. But even if it does, he said there won’t be a sig­ni­fic­ant ad­di­tion to loc­al pol­lu­tion.

“When we crush on Al­legheny [2870 E. Al­legheny St.] now, we have all our emis­sion per­mits and air per­mits and dust con­trol,” Ay­del­lothe said. “There’s of­ten dust from any­thing – any­time you drive out of your drive­way.”

Twenty people at­ten­ded last week’s Brides­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation meet­ing to hear about up­dates on the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive, Win­zinger and Coun­cil­man Hen­on’s work­ing group for the Coke site.

Hen­on’s dir­ect­or of com­munity out­reach, Lisa Dee­ley, said that at the Feb­ru­ary work­ing group meet­ing for the Coke site they re­ceived cre­at­ive in­put from the com­munity about what they want to see on the 60-acre va­cant land.

“We got an ar­ray of sug­ges­tions – from a white wa­ter raft­ing park to a brew­ery,” Dee­ley said.

Dee­ley said that Hen­on would not go for­ward with any plans for the Coke site without com­munity ap­prov­al.

Whatever hap­pens, the Brides­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation, which re­cently cre­ated a new Face­book page — search “Brides­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation” on Face­book — will be there to keep loc­als in­formed.

Re­port­er Sam Ne­w­house can be reached at 215-354-3124 or at sne­w­house@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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