Southeast Side residents tell city they don’t want General Iron

At a glitch-riddled virtual public meeting, almost two dozen residents speak against the proposed car-shredder.

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General Iron’s owner will begin shutting down its Lincoln Park car-shredding operation in coming weeks to begin a transition to the Southeast Side.

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Southeast Side residents accused Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration of ignoring their pleas to stop a car-shredding operation set to open in their neighborhood after General Iron shuts down on the North Side.

In a Thursday night public meeting held online and plagued by technical glitches, some residents said it was unfair and racist that they have to receive a polluting nuisance in an already heavily industrialized area so General Iron can leave its longtime home in Lincoln Park to make way for new development.

“Lincoln Park has beautiful buildings and landscaping — our landscape is this ugly industry,” said resident Mark Velez. “We don’t want these dirty businesses down here anymore.”

General Iron’s owner Reserve Management Group is shutting down the longtime home of the metal shredder and is building a new facility at East 116th Street along the Calumet River. It needs a final city permit to open its new rebranded operation on the Southeast Side, the subject of the city-hosted meeting.

Lightfoot’s own air quality report released earlier this year showed that the Southeast Side is among the worst in the city.

The RMG facility is at the center of a complaint with federal housing officials and a lawsuit filed in federal court, both cases alleging the civil rights of South Side residents are being violated.

Moving a business from white Lincoln Park to Latino-majority East Side is environmental racism, multiple speakers said.

“It wasn’t safe for the white people in Lincoln Park, but it will be safe enough for us?” asked Marie Collins-Wright.

That sentiment was echoed by others.

“We would never see a business uprooted from the South Side and moved to Lincoln Park,” said Roni Nicole-Facen, one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

Some spoke in favor of RMG, including several who identified themselves as linked to the company. A number of residents who registered to speak were skipped after not responding when they were called on.

The city will accept written comments on the permit through January 14.

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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