Residents near Bowman Gray Stadium say testing for methane gas years overdue

Residents near Bowman Gray Stadium say testing for methane gas years overdue
July 10
00:00 2015

In photo above: Assistant City Manager Greg Turner addresses the crowd during a meeting on Thursday, June 25, at Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, 1400 Fitch St. The meeting, held by Council Member Derwin L. Montgomery, was open to the public to discuss the methane gas that has been recently discovered in the vicinity of Bowman Gray Stadium. (Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle)

By Tevin Stinson
The Chronicle

On Tuesday, July 7, the second round of testing for methane gas began in the neighborhoods surrounding Bowman Gray Stadium.

Although they are glad to see testing continue in the area, community members believe that it is something that should have been done years ago.

Last month, city officials announced they found methane gas levels as high as 50 percent in the soil around the stadium and in the parking lot.

According to Keith Huff, director of stormwater and erosion control for the city, the methane is likely coming from an old landfill that was on the site some time ago.
Jacob Hughes, a member of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, voiced his frustration with the city. During a recent open meeting, he said the city has known about this issue for years and has done nothing to let the residents know.

“Why are we just hearing about this (methane gas) now?” Hughes said.
“We know there was a landfill on the property, but it hasn’t been a concern until now,” Hughes said. “This testing should’ve been done years ago. It seems as if they don’t care about the people of this community.”

Initial testing was completed by Smith Gardner Consulting Firm. Stacey Smith, president of Smith Garner, said they do have information on a landfill that was in the area in the early ’80s but said any information prior to that he is unaware of.

“The landfill we have records of was a permitted facility,” said Smith. “What was considered waste back then [1950s] has changed. Back then, we would just take waste and household waste and just dump it. I think that is what happened in the ’50s and ’60s.”

The testing last month was part of an exchange between the city and Winston-Salem State University, owner of the Bowman Gray property. WSSU spent $100,000 in matching funds to pay for initial testing of the site.

Jillian Allen, of Winston-Salem and president of Action Now, believes if it weren’t for WSSU, the people in the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium would’ve never known about the gas that could be seeping through their homes every day.

“If it weren’t for the selling of the stadium, the people of this community would’ve never known of the dangers they could be facing,” Allen said.
“I would like the city to fully explain what is going on. Things change all the time, so I think the individuals need to really understand what is going on and how they will fix this issue in the future, because it could be getting worse.”

In the 14 homes tested during the initial testing, no methane gas was found.

Assistant City Manager Greg Turner said testing will continue until the city has a full understanding of the area and how to manage it.
“The last thing we want is methane in someone’s home,” Turner said. “We will continue to test the soil in the neighborhoods, but we need permission to test inside your homes.”
Results from the second round of testing will be back in late August.

Keith Huff, director of stormwater and erosion control for Winston-Salem, can be reached at The city’s website is

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