The arrival of the WSP project has awakened an otherwise socially and politically passive community over the past few months. For this I am grateful.
I call this town “home” and plan to spend the rest of my productive life living and working here and I am happy to see that people are educating themselves about this controversy and voicing their opinions.
It seems to me that there is no real debate about the need for economic growth in the community, and it is difficult to argue against the idea that this plant would bring decent paying jobs to the community.
The real debate here revolves around two primary issues: Will this project be harmful to the residents of Cass and surrounding counties and will the arrival of WSP act as a deterrent to future economic growth?
I will not comment on the second point because it is not the point of this forum. The first point regarding the health consequences of the project is an issue I have thought a lot about over the past few months.
The morning of Saturday, May 16, 2020, was one of the most beautiful mornings I can recall in a long long time. I started the morning with a customary trail run on my favorite trail, the Little Turtle Waterway. As the Sun’s rays began to find their way downriver, the landscape was as pretty as I can ever recall seeing in this part of the state.
Unfortunately, I was quickly reminded of some of the sober realities of my hometown. The trail was like a ghost-town. I ran from 18th Street to the confluence and back and saw only a single human being on the trail. Yep, that’s it, one human — a man with a cane and a dog by his side.
By the way, this was 8:30 am, not sunrise.
The reality is that I live in a community that doesn’t prioritize individual health. For years, my kids and I have been biking and running the trails at Little Turtle, Houston Park, River Bluff, France Park and the Berry Patch, and I am saddened to say that it is not unusual to find myself alone in these places.
Now, to my point.
I attend various council and board meetings in this community. I’ve been doing this for work purposes for the past 20 years. Rarely do I see anyone from the general public in attendance.
Enter Facebook, the fast food of social media outlets. It serves a purpose, but clearly spreads more fallacies than truths. Now, everyone has an pulpit and an opinion. Now, everyone has a dog in the fight. Now, there is no reason to attend a meeting of any governing body.
I can’t however, get past the hypocrisy. While I do appreciate and value the educated, organized and civil approach by some members of the WSP resistance, many of those who are screaming bloody murder are the same people I am not seeing on the trails or at the YMCA. They are same people that seem to be filling up the drive-up at McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell on a daily basis. I specifically recall when KFC/Long Johns reopened several years ago — the line was so long that it was congesting traffic damn near to the Mall. Really?
I can assure you there were plenty of parking spots available at the Little Turtle Waterway Trail dedication, and still are today. Dare I mention the purchase and consumption of the stockpiles of tobacco products that seem to fortify the walls of every gas station in town? I am not a model of health myself, but I can assure you my life choices tend to revolve around activities that are mentally and physically enriching.
So, is WSP going to “poison” our community? From a purely technical standpoint, I think the answer is “yes.” Is our community already poisoned? The history of this community and it’s industrial base lead you to one answer … yes.
Do two wrongs make a right? No. Do I think any of us are going to die from the lead or mercury contamination as a direct result of that plant? No.
Despite how you feel about the WSP project, I would suggest that we, as a community, redirect some of this energy toward becoming a health conscious community where people choose a bike ride over a Big Mac or a TRX class at the YMCA over a bucket of chicken; where people choose Houston park over a pack of cigarettes; where people choose to control their own destiny when it comes to their overall health before pointing the blame at others.
I would suggest that, for any one citizen who may die at the hands of contamination, hundreds and possibly thousands, could extend their lives by refocusing all of this energy on their own mental and physical health.
Luckily for all of us, the good people associated with the YMCA just raised $3 million to renovate the entire structure. Don’t wait another day, call and get your membership. And, if we cross paths on one of the local trails or at the YMCA, feel free to point out to me you are taking your health in to your own hands and not letting places like WSP, KFC and BW3 dictate your quality of life. You might even get a fist bump (or elbow bump until we reach Stage 3 of the reopening) in return.
It’s time for a call to action! Otherwise, thanks for reading and thanks to all those in the community that are taking an educated, informed and civil approach to opposing WSP. It is important that any community vet such projects to ensure that our elected officials (many of whom I know are good people doing what they believe is right) are making wise decisions and to ensure that we, as citizens, are a part of the process.
It is not appropriate to vilify our leaders in the process without knowing them individually and without participating in process of government on a consistent basis.
Here is your call to action: Grab a YMCA membership; find the vegetable isle at the local grocery store; spend less time in the line at Burger King and more time at Houston Park; and finally, spend some time educating yourself about the goings-on in your community.
I have a hunch that your quality of life will improve as will the quality of life of those around you.
Bradley A. Rozzi is a resident of Logansport.