The Invisible Deal

13 09 2012

The St. Louis Forestry Division’s contract with a private company appears to have vanished, taking the credibility of City Hall with it.

by Bill Newmann

A sign at the gates of the city’s Hall Street composting facility

St. Louis Composting Inc., the private company that accepts wood waste from the city, has been operating without a valid contract since the beginning of September, the Journal of Decomposition has learned.

Despite numerous requests made this week, City Hall could not produce a copy of the current contract between the Forestry Division and St. Louis Composting.

Forestry signed a deal with the company three years ago when the city agency decided to privatize its composting operation. St. Louis Composting submitted the successful bid. On September 1, 2009, the firm entered into a three-year contract worth up to an estimated $750,000, according to city documents. The agreement expired on August 31 of this year.

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What a Dump!

10 07 2012

City officials deny illegal dumping in Carondelet Park. The clearing in the background is the location of the alleged illegal landfill.

Cloaked by a grove of trees just beyond public view at the  free-compost site in Carondelet Park, the city Forestry Division is covering up its real dirty work.

by Bill Newmann

With the first bloom of the crocus, the foragers begin to descend on the southeast corner of Carondelet Park with shovels and pitchforks in hand.  Among the gardening set, a visit to the South St. Louis compost pile is a rite of spring.

The pilgrimages, which continue throughout the growing season, have the down-to-earth purpose of adding soil nutrients to front yard rose beds and backyard tomato patches.  Not surprisingly, urban gardeners and  landscapers who participate in this humble ritual have long showered perennial praise on the St. Louis Forestry Division for the free compost and mulch it offers.

There is a dark side to Forestry’s green image, however.

The free compost – tons of it – is littered with every kind of trash imaginable. A stench fills the air next to a fetid clump of trash that has accumulated under a piece of heavy machinery.  Nearby, a green flip-flop protrudes from one compost pile. A hairbrush lies next to another.  Besides the abandoned footwear and the filthy article of grooming, there are countless fast-food containers, Styrofoam cups, plastic water bottles, and aluminum cans.

But the trash isn’t limited to the compost heaps.

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