I attended the public hearing regarding the Oak Hall Quarry expansion, and I heard some alternative facts.
▪ I heard the mine referred to as a “neighbor.” Talk about putting political spin on a word! Since when is an open pit mine a “neighbor?”
▪ It was mentioned that limestone is a natural filter for water. That’s true — when left in it’s natural state but not after it’s been pulled out of the earth.
▪ I heard mention that if this mine is shut down, the State College supply of limestone would have to be trucked from 20 miles away. Actually, Hawbaker’s quarry is only 10 miles away, as if 10 or even 20 is a significant distance!
The quarry came first, that’s true. Then new houses were built around it. If it were an old house in the neighborhood, it would have been torn down when it became old and decrepit. The quarry has outlived it’s usefulness. In a residential area it’s become a nuisance with it’s dirt, dust, mud on the road, noise and blasting vibrations. It does not belong in a residential neighborhood. The limestone supply there is nearly exhausted. Let Hanson take what is left and leave. Hanson Aggregates has the money to build a new quarry elsewhere, and Pennsylvania is ripe with limestone, a true fact that was mentioned. It’s not like this is a unique location.
No mention was made of the fact that only 15 are employed full time. While I sympathize with those that would have to seek other employment, this is not a major employer in the State College area, nor are the company profits staying in this region as is, for example, buying groceries grown on local farms. The profits are going to Hanson Aggregates HQ in Texas and overseas to the U.K.
But in the bigger picture, are we living in a residential neighborhood or an industrial park?
I’m not against open pit mining. I grew up in Osceola Mills surrounded by them. Relatives and friends worked in those mines, and it’s still big industry there, but the mines are not in town!
Robert Echard lives on East Branch Road in State College.