Activists Call on City to Take Down Shingle Mountain: ‘This Is What Hate Looks Like'

Southeast Dallas resident says the City of Dallas should share the blame

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People who live near what’s known as “Shingle Mountain” in Southeast Dallas say they are out of patience and feel forgotten by the city.

More than a year after a judge ordered the people responsible to clean up the pile of old roofing materials, the mountain remains. Activists are calling for the City of Dallas to step in and pay for the removal, saying it is a matter of public health.

“I have lung issues now where I never had to go to a pulmonologist before. My vocal cords are inflamed,” said homeowner Marsha Jackson.

Jackson’s home backs up to the property where the pile of shingles has stacked up since she first began calling the city about it in January of 2018.

“January 2018, this mountain started right next door to my house - less than 50 feet away from my bedroom,” said Jackson.

By December of 2018, the City of Dallas sued Blue Star Recycling over code violations. On April 3, 2019, Judge Gena Slaughter ordered the owners to remove the pile within 90 days.

But that pile, despite court orders and contempt charges, continues to stand tall in Jackson’s neighborhood.

Jackson says she’s lost faith in the courts and its ability to enforce the order.

Now, she and supporters are calling for city officials to step in and take down Shingle Mountain.

“Dallas, this is what hate looks like,” said Dr. Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church, as he held up a large photo of Shingle Mountain Wednesday afternoon.

“This is what Black lives not mattering looks like. It looks like this and we are saying we are sick of it, so go ahead and move this mountain,” Haynes said.

One of Blue Star Recycling’s founders, Carl Orrell, told NBC 5 by phone Wednesday the company is out of business and he is filing for personal bankruptcy protection.

Orrell said he tried to fix the problems after “not-so-great business practices by someone else” and he’s now taking a step back.

NBC 5 also reached out to the other Blue Star Recycling plaintiff in the case, Chris Ganter, but he didn’t respond to a call or text message for a number linked to him. Court records indicate he is representing himself in the City of Dallas lawsuit.

In a statement to NBC 5, The City of Dallas wrote, "The City has aggressively enforced against all responsible parties, including owners and operators, and continues to seek rapid removal and disposal of all remaining materials. We stand behind Ms. Marsha Jackson and all other Dallas residents seeking to ensure compliance with laws and regulations intended to protect human health and the environment."

The city says the state intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The City of Dallas also sued two landowners. The city says as a result of the city's lawsuit, one of the properties has been cleaned up by Almira Industrial and Trading Corp.

The city says cleanup by a second property owner is ongoing, some of the cleanup on hold pending TCEQ approval of the relocation site in Navarro County.

The city added that it has put the property owner on notice that the city may handle the cleanup then place a lien on the property.

"During the current budgetary process, the City is exploring funding options related to such a removal process to ensure cleanup and hold the owners/operators responsible while minimizing potential impact on Dallas taxpayers," according to the emailed statement to NBC 5.

NBC 5 reached out to both property owners Wednesday morning, but neither responded.

Jackson says it now falls to the city to take on the mess, saying the city played a role in allowing Shingle Mountain to grow.

“You can’t just say Blue Star is responsible. The city is responsible just as much,” said Jackson.

“I don’t want to hear excuses about who’s going to move the mountain. Just move the mountain and once you move the mountain, correct policies that allow these kinds of landfills to disproportionately exist on our side of town,” said Haynes.

Jackson says it is taking too long to resolve a problem she first began speaking out about ahead of the city’s lawsuit, as first reported by Dallas Morning News contributor Robert Wilonsky in 2018.

Justice Pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church Danielle Ayers is asking supporters to contact council members to demand the council support removal of Shingle Mountain in the city’s budget.

The City of Dallas says it’s working on a response to NBC 5’s questions about whether the city would consider taking on remediation at the site.

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