News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 1, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Hyde Park has battled contamination for years. Now a local chemical plant is looking to relocate nearby. Residents say: not in our backyard.
"Enough is enough and right now the Hyde Park residents is fed up," said Valarie Brown.
Hyde Park is an Augusta community plagued with contamination. Some say it is located on the wrong side of the tracks because the area is surrounded by industrial plants. Southern Ionics, a chemical plant, is the latest company looking to move in down the street.
Valarie Brown says it's a step in the wrong direction. "Not just a step in the wrong direction but a slap in the residents of Hyde Park face. That's what I consider this to be."
The family has called the area home for over 30 years. Valarie says with their latest addition, a new baby, safety is a concern.
"You've got these dilemmas that occasionally occur and decisions have got to be made," said George Patty, executive director of the Augusta-Richmond County Planning Commission. "It's not a perfect world. Hyde Park was built in an industrial area, you know. The industry was there before the area was there and you can't...I don't know how you could move an industry."
But would Mr. Patty want the plant in his backyard? "No, I wouldn't want it in my area."
"I think it's a disgrace that we're dishonoring Hyde Park and their residents with no respect to what their surrounding the people with," said Brown.
There are some conditions: the plant would have to meet flood guidelines and have 24 hour security. Outside of that, the plant is just moving a few miles from Perkins road to Lumpkin Road.
District Commissioner Corey Johnson says, "If it were something that was moving into the community or the district then I may be more concerned about it, but they're here and they're moving into a better location."
But that is up for debate, says Valarie. "As big as Augusta is I think and feel for sure that we can find another location for this plant."
There is a public meeting at 1742 Lumpkin Road Saturday morning at 10 am. Commissioners and the fire chief will be on hand to address resident's concerns. The issue will go before the full Commission on Tuesday, February 5.