The saga of the proposed tire shredder for East Baton Rouge Parish continues, after a spirited discussion at Wednesday’s Metro Council meeting over the planned location for the shredder—an issue most council members thought they’d resolved several weeks ago.
Council members took no action following the discussion, which was initiated by Councilwoman Chauna Banks, who doesn’t want the shredder located in her district on property owned by the parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control District.
But Banks did introduce a measure for still more discussion at the Nov. 26 council meeting. She’s asking for a combined report from MARC and Baum Environmental Services—the company that has agreed to operate the shredder for the parish free of charge—on the business plan, operation, and sustainability of the program.
Banks, who claims that locating the tire shredder on MARC property near the parish prison is an example of environmental injustice, says she wants to revisit the cooperative endeavor agreement approved by a majority of the council earlier this fall with Baum to operate the shredder, which is being funded by a grant for the U.S Centers for Disease Control.
Banks and three other African American council members missed the meeting where the deal was approved because they were attending a conference.
“This is not a well thought out plan,” Banks says. “I want foundationally for us to make sure we have looked into everything going forth as it relates to the city’s further involvement, maintenance, traffic, building a new building, everything.”
In the meantime, Councilwoman Tara Wicker, last night, proposed relocating the shredder to a site in the parish industrial district, west of Scenic Highway and far from any residential areas.
Banks, however, says that would not necessarily answer her concerns. It could also violate the terms of the $605,000 CDC grant, which was awarded to MARC because waste tires serve as breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Though the grant does not stipulate that the shredder must be located on MARC-owned property, it does say MARC has to administer the program.
With so many new questions being raised and a June deadline by which the $605,000 has to be spent, MARC Executive Director Randy Vaeth says he is concerned the parish may lose the money and, therefore, the shredder program.
“The progress on this has been one step forward two steps back since 2018,” Vaeth says. “This would set us back if we had to find another location because the original grant and the CEA all state the shredder will be on our site. We would have to go back and redo that.”