Victims of the Biomass Plant

– by Judy Hooker

The city of Gainesville government isn’t the intelligent, forward thinking group I would have imagined. Is it somehow cool to victimize an otherwise beautiful community for financial gain? People and wildlife alike will pay a huge price for your callous actions.

I am speaking of the Turkey Creek area that was selected for extinction by way of a biomass wood-burning plant. This plant sounds like a jet plane and looks like my idea of hell. But I don’t think noise is the worst of many unwelcome gifts from this plant. As I sat on my porch recently, I was assaulted by a smell in the air. As I approached the front gate in my car later, I smelled the same odor again. Who is planning to monitor this monstrosity?

Most of the residents of Turkey Creek are seniors. I suspect that is why this particular site was chosen to erect something so controversial. Someone understood we came here to retire and enjoy nature and golf. They figured we wouldn’t be inclined to fight for what was already promised us. We worked hard to earn the right to retire in a special place. We certainly wouldn’t have chosen to live close to a biomass plant.

I challenge any of you who had any input in this project to put your life savings into a dream home in Turkey Creek, close to the noise and smoke you sanction for others. Of course that will not happen. You will choose to be far from what you would have us contend with. You have robbed us all of much of our enjoyment of retirement, apparently without conscience — and yes, we have been robbed!

Burning coal or wood is a matter to take seriously when there are concentrations of people as exists here. I grew up in southwest Virginia where coal mining was the only occupation and coal the source of heat until around 1960. My father worked around the mines in the capacity of electrical engineer. When he became aware of the dangers of burning coal, he switched over to electric heat.

We need to have emissions testing out here. There are children here and little bodies are particularly vulnerable to poison. I have long worried about the big Gainesville Regional Utilities coal-burning plant not three miles from us. Until recently, many of the women and men here were out two times a week or more playing golf under those smokestacks. If the truth were known, I believe it could be a factor in the high numbers of chronic lung problems and cancers here. For example, my husband and I qualify.

From the inception of the biomass plant, there was a group of informed residents fighting to save the integrity of this community. We are not the only community affected by the problems that have already occurred. However, we do pay an inordinately high tax for the privilege of living where it is no longer a great privilege. Our voices should be heard.

The plant is simply a mistake of enormous proportions. You have proven you can get what you want. Close it. Bypass the cleanup.

Judy Hooker lives in the Turkey Creek neighborhood.

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