Letter to the Editor

Is there a compromise?

Monday, February 20, 2012

To the Editor:

Is there a compromise for the asphalt plant proposal?

My name is Erica, and I grew up and live in Riley, just outside of Terre Haute.

Obviously, I am not a Brazil city or Clay County resident, but I do live in a "small town" community and understand how decisions can directly and indirectly affect so many different folks.

I also realize how divisive issues can solicit passion on each side of the debate in close-knit communities.

Looking at this from an outside perspective, I hope to give a completely unbiased view. I do have friends and colleagues from Brazil, and I'm very familiar with the city.

I have heard opinions on both sides of the fence. I believe both sides have an argument. It is fair for residents who have been through hard times and have seen industry come and go or either pass by the City of Brazil to be optimistic about the prospect of a reputable businessman wanting to set up shop in town.

That business could have an economic impact from potential jobs and taxes to maybe even better deals on road work in Clay County.

It is also fair for residents to have fears about their health and property values without regard to the close proximity to schools.

I believe the very fact that hot mix asphalt drum plants require federally enforceable air quality permits can allow for regular folks to have concerns.

It is my understanding that the school administration also voiced concerns over the safety of this plant.

Even if the air quality is not adversely affected, there is always the risk of violations occurring or accidents happening from the plant or increases in heavy-duty truck traffic.

I can easily see an argument from both sides and it is clear that the schools are at the center of the debate.

What I'm wondering: Is there a compromise?

Is there an opportunity to align more people with a better option for this proposal?

I, nor anyone involved with this issue, is foolish enough to think everyone will be pleased with any decision.

I'm simply asking if there is a way to please more people. I have heard from folks that there may be other industrial sites in Brazil or Clay County that are currently open for such a facility to operate.

Those sites are certainly farther away from the schools.

It is also my understanding that they may not be as ideal for Dave O'Mara Contractor, Inc.

My hope is this: If folks want to believe that Dave O'Mara Contractor, Inc., is a safe, reputable company, then it should not be a stretch to think they would consider moving to another location.

Yes, it may not be as practical or the best "business" decision for them to move to another location. It could, however, be a decision made with moral considerations.

A decision that would allow for the town to welcome Dave O'Mara with open arms and be the start of a long-term working relationship.

Word would spread to other communities that Dave O'Mara will always consider the concerns of the residents they want to do business with.

That is a statement of safety that speaks volumes.

The City of Brazil could help facilitate this decision and, in doing so, show that they hear the opinions of the residents who want industry to come to town while reducing the fears of those concerned with the current site being so close to North Clay and Northview schools.

I always believe, "where there's a will, there's a way."

People might not want to hear from a non-resident on this matter, and I understand that. But, we are all Hoosiers and I just wanted to give my "two cents" and hope that decisions will be made that benefit as many people as possible.

Erica Vaughn,