Should we support a TIF for Heartland?
To the editor:
The proposed Heartland Co-op grain elevator, at the location they’ve chosen for it on Nutmeg Avenue, is not a good fit for Fairfield. Many people who spoke at Monday’s supervisors meeting detailed the mounting concerns that neighbors and local citizens have about this industrial operation’s negative impacts. These include fire and explosion hazards, health problems caused by the volume of dust generated by an operation of this size, and much more. These are real hazards. They are happening at modern, state-of-the-art grain elevators. And neighbors are getting serious, irreversible diseases from being near facilities like these, including COPD, cancer and asthma.
FEDA and local governing bodies need to increase economic development by supporting existing businesses, and encouraging “buy fresh, buy local,” Hometown Harvest, and other programs that build local self-sufficiency and resiliency. This is the kind of economic development that creates good-paying jobs, serving both rural and town interests. These are jobs that will last into the future and that will continue to attract and retain young people, young families and others who would like to live in a town like Fairfield.
Heartland put significant planning and resources into building their elevator at its current proposed site on Nutmeg Ave. They would have done well to contact neighbors and present their plans before investing in the current proposed location. If Heartland had communicated with all of the stakeholders, and considered the needs of everyone affected by the development and operation of a facility of this size, they would likely have been dissuaded from locating at this site. This kind of outreach would have saved them considerable time and money, prevented what may well become major damage to their reputation if they move forward with this elevator at this location, and would have prevented the huge outcry that we’ve seen in recent weeks here.
Heartland’s CEO and Board of Directors have received an indication, supported by many in the Fairfield community, that impacted neighbors would need to buy the land back from Heartland if the company will choose a more suitable location.
If Heartland really wants to deliver the economic benefits that they say they want to deliver, and be a good neighbor as well, they’ll relocate this operation. There are alternative sites farther away from Fairfield, or in nearby counties, that would suit Heartland’s needs. I sincerely hope that Heartland’s management will accept the proposal on offer, end their plans to develop an elevator at the current proposed site, and locate it elsewhere.
– Patrick Bosold, Fairfield