"For years we'd let that area deteriorate," admits Tandy. "They were absolutely right about that."

The residents began scrutinizing the property and became alarmed at the sight of discarded light fixtures, electronics and containers marked "asbestos" and "acid." Worried about contaminants such as mercury and PCBs washing off into the nearby creek, they made complaints to the Department of Natural Resources and the St. Louis County Department of Health. Each agency inspected Parkway's campus plant and failed to find anything amiss. The county further determined that the facility doesn't need to be licensed or regulated.

Councilman Barry Flachsbart is not convinced: "There are conflicting legal opinions about whether or not they need a permit."

Parkway recycled 1,304 tons of waste last year. See more photos.
Parkway recycled 1,304 tons of waste last year. See more photos.

Still, nobody disagrees that it is a loud and dirty business. "[It's the] nature of the beast," reasons Lueders, who manages the site.

"It's one of these things people don't like in their back yard, and I can't say that I blame them," says Tandy.

Green Trails' residents are now demanding the facility be relocated to an industrial area. Councilman Segal says he and Flachsbart, along with state and county officials, are drafting a letter to Parkway School District urging it to move the plant.

"I think it's important to encourage students to recycle, and you have to start at a young age," notes Segal. "We can have a win-win where Parkway is a leader in recycling, but does it in a responsible way."

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