Encourage Heartland to locate farther away
To the editor:
On June 22, 2005, the Fairfield Ledger published an article by Eric Gable headlined: “Iowa Great Places initiative subject of Fairfield meeting.” It quoted Anita Walker, Iowa Director of Cultural Affairs, who said, “In order to be prosperous and vigorous, we must have a good quality of life.” Walker went on to say that communities need to look at the face they present to visitors.
Fairfield does include businesses that support agriculture, but Fairfield was given its cultural district status and won its Great Places designation as a unique center of diversity—the home of an international university, international cuisine, numerous art venues, a Go-Green Strategic Plan and a dedication to improving and showcasing a good quality of life for its citizens.
Today, only 7 percent of Jefferson County’s population earns a living from agriculture. Can we really describe ours as an “agricultural community,” as Dick Reed did at the supervisors meeting on Monday?
Keeping that in mind, do we want a giant grain elevator to “welcome” people on the eastern threshold of our community?
The Heartland grain elevator will cast a long shadow upon—and possibly push away—one of our unique industries, Overland Sheepskin, located just across Nutmeg Avenue from the proposed site. Overland employs 30 people, and its llama farm is a charming landmark to visitors entering the city from the east.
Imagine the noise levels created by the many semi-trailer trucks entering and exiting this grain elevator complex daily; the clanking of train cars being loaded and the operations of the 10-acre elevator complex itself. Imagine the impact on the peaceful llama farm just across the street.
Truck traffic will bring in grain from six counties. A single semi-trailer truck’s wear and tear on roads is equal to more than 9,000 cars! With trucks approaching from all directions, imagine a constant stream of trucks on Pleasant Plain Road, Route 1, 185th Street, and Osage Avenue – and the exhaust fumes.
Lack of zoning laws allows businesses such as Cambridge Investment Research to build in rural areas. Commuters to and from Cambridge have increased traffic, but with passenger vehicles, not semis! Moreover, Cambridge employs close to 300 city and county residents out of their 580 employees—a hefty contribution in terms of tax income. By contrast, the Heartland elevator will employ only six or eight people.
Heartland Co-op may pay for improvements on Nutmeg Avenue, but you can be sure local residents will experience tax increases for road maintenance that would otherwise be unnecessary—all to benefit a Des Moines-based business!
In addition, Heartland Co-op has an option on the rest of the 160 acres. What might be developed there next? A grain elevator could be the first step toward an ethanol or grain-processing plant located here, bringing even more traffic and more pollution!
Our elected city officials should encourage an alternate location for Heartland Co-op’s elevator; somewhere farther away from our “Great Place.”
– Cindy Ballou, Fairfield