Tuscaloosa Looking to Relocate Liberty Recycling After Second Fire in 45 Days
At the City of Tuscaloosa's weekly pre-council meeting, Mayor Walt Maddox updated the City Council on steps that are being taken to move Liberty Recycling Center on 24th Street somewhere outside of the city after the second major fire there in 45 days.
The conversation came a day after a tire fire at the recycling center drew a huge response from the Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service and lofted thick, black smoke over the city.
TFR also sent seven units to respond to a large-scale fire at the facility on May 16.
In both cases, the fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported but Maddox and several members of the city council said it's past time to push Liberty Recycling outside of West Tuscaloosa.
"This has been something that has been brought to our attention time and time again," Maddox said. "We are very concerned with health, safety, and welfare with the second fire taking place in a very short period of time."
In the past year, the City pursued a criminal conviction against Liberty Recycling, and issued multiple citations for noise violations. Because of the back-to-back fires, Maddox believes the City has more authority to push Liberty to find a new location.
"We're taking what happened yesterday very seriously," Maddox said.
Maddox went on to say that the new city attorney Scott Holmes and the fire marshals are reviewing how Liberty Recycling's continued operations negatively impact the surrounding community.
"With the civil litigation that they had, I thought we would see some remedies, and we're not," said District 2 Councilwoman Raevan Howard. Liberty Recycling resides in District 2, and Howard said she's heard countless complaints from residents about the plant. "They have a solid agreement to finally move, but for me, they're not moving fast enough."
Maddox said the situation may have to be settled legally. He said that the city has had several "handshake agreements" with Liberty about getting them outside city limits, but those have never been honored.
"There have been many moments where we thought this matter was going to be resolved. It hasn't been," Maddox said. "But at this point, it's not a case of 'want to'... It's about what the City can do legally within our authority to help facilitate this."
"This has been a nuisance and a health issue and a health concern for my community for over 20 years. I'm ready to see some action take place right now," Howard said. "I think it's time for us to go harder, and apply even more pressure."
According to Maddox, the owners of Liberty Recycling have reportedly found a new site, and do plan on moving, but he did not elaborate on that point.