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Save the Pine Grove School Community - a Letter to the Army Corps

Although the formal comment period has expired, Preservation Piedmont has added our voice to the chorus of citizens and organizations requesting that the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers deny a permit for or alternatively, at a minimum, complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the effects of the proposed Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal

Facility in Cumberland County on the area’s historical and natural resources and the people living nearby.

The Green Ridge Facility would be one of the largest such facilities in Virginia, serving

communities within 500 miles, many outside Virginia. Despite its application to build a

mega-landfill, the company has neither demonstrated the need for this facility nor

conducted a study of its many impacts, including those on the Pine Grove Rosenwald

School, across the street from the proposed landfill, and the surrounding African

American community.

The Pine Grove Rosenwald School is the only African American cultural resource in

Cumberland County listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as on the

Virginia Landmarks Register. One of a rapidly diminishing number of Rosenwald

schools in Virginia and the South, Pine Grove is also the heart of a community

established and populated by descendants of the formerly enslaved. These families

have created a rural landscape reflecting the values, agricultural economy, and the

social lives of the many people who supported and were sustained by the Pine Grove

Rosenwald School.

The historic cemeteries, natural springs, roads and paths, farms, former stores, and

other landscape features and components reflect and represent rural life in this

significant rural African American community in the segregated Jim Crow Era of the late

19th and early 20th centuries.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed Pine Grove School as one of

America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2021. This designation followed

Preservation Virginia’s designation of the Pine Grove School Community as one of the

state’s most endangered historic places in 2020.

The Rosenwald School project originated in a partnership between educator Booker T.

Washington and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, part owner and leader of Sears

Roebuck, to help create schools for Black children throughout the South in the early 20th

Century. Based on Washington’s designs and seed money from the Rosenwald Fund,

the local community built Pine Grove School in 1917, and it remained in operation until

1964. The former school serves now as an important community gathering place.

The Green Ridge disposal area would cover 238 acres, accepting up to 5,000 tons of

waste per day. The project threatens the many streams and wetlands in the area as

well as 44 private drinking water wells within 500 feet of the proposed facility.

Under the Clean Water Act, the Corps must determine “the least environmentally

damaging practicable alternative” and that it is “in the public interest” to issue a Section

404 permit under the Act.

We request that the permit be denied. However, at a minimum, if the permit is not

denied at the outset, then the Corps should require a full EIS, including a

comprehensive review of the proposed need for the facility, study of alternative

locations, and the potentially severe impacts on the Pine Grove School and resources,

including drinking water, associated with the historic African American community.

Click the link below to join the National Trust for Historic Preservation's petition or write to the Army Corp at:

Mr. Steven Vanderploeg

Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

9100 Arboretum Parkway, Suite 235 BY EMAIL

Richmond, VA 23235

Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Protect the Pine Grove School and community from a landfill.

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