What would you do to avoid a potential neighborhood disaster?

What should you do if your water supply was threatened? 

The short answer is – EVERYTHING!

My husband and I live directly across the street from a potential disaster, but the truth is, it affects not only us, but thousands of others in the area.

Here is the story: DLZ, an architecture/engineering firm, is teaming up with the St. Joseph County commissioners and the parks board to provide a park for the citizens of Granger.

The park comes as a bundled package to include a county maintenance garage with a fueling station and salt barn at Beech and Anderson roads. 

This is the problem: Residents overwhelmingly embrace the idea of a park – but they also know that a maintenance garage would be a detriment, on many levels, to the community. 

Their biggest concern is the imminent possibility of water contamination from fuel and salt. 

Contamination is not an IF issue; it’s a WHEN issue. No system, no matter how expert the construction, is infallible. Throughout history as well as in recent times, human error comes into play with disastrous consequences.

Unfortunately, residents learned about this late in the game, as commissioners signed a memorandum for a the maintenance garage before the community was informed and had time to react.

We cannot control natural disasters, but this is a situation within our control. Our community’s only water source is from wells. If those are compromised, it affects the health of each and every member within its reach. 

The reach is far. It’s one of the largest aquifers in the United States.

More than 300 concerned neighbors gathered at McGann Hay Funeral Home on March 12 to unite their voices regarding the proposed project. 

Not one person in attendance favored building a maintenance garage on this property. In fact, it was unanimous that if the park came tagged with the garage, the community would rather forgo the park altogether.

This was a show of more than 300 concerned neighbors at a town hall meeting, and one citizen has offered $50,000 to kickstart the construction of a park — WITHOUT a county garage. If this doesn’t move the needle, not much will.

Now the question is whether the legacy of this parks board will be one of integrity or chicanery. Their mission statement says: “St. Joseph County Parks will enrich the community and the lives of St. Joseph County residents by conserving and caring for significant natural areas, promoting understanding and stewardship of our unique natural and cultural heritage through innovative programs and services, and enhancing visitor experiences through well-maintained park facilities.” 

Will they do that or turn their backs on these words and the people of our community? Stay tuned. 

The vote is to be held Tuesday, April 18 at 9 a.m. Ideally, community interest will encourage the commissioners to hold a public meeting prior to this date.