Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Irresponsible waste of our tax money

Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster General Hospital recently applied to the Federal Railroad Administration for a $5 million grant to relocate the Dillerville Norfolk Southern Rail Yard. With projected costs totaling $64 million, F&M and LGH have applied for additional millions of dollars from other state and federal agencies. This is in addition to $10 million dollars already given to F&M College by Governor Rendell.

F&M plans to build a new athletic field for its students on the current rail yard site across from the College’s main campus on Harrisburg Pike. The College wants to move the Rail Yard to a dump site formerly used by the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. This dump site is as close as 50 ft. to some homes in the nearby upscale residential neighborhoods of Barrcrest, Farmingdale Road and School Lane Hills.

Many homeowners who live in these neighborhoods oppose the plan on the basis that the noise and emissions from the moving and switching of rail cars near their homes will adversely affect their health, quality of life and property values. These same homeowners say that they were not permitted free and open discussion of the project in several F&M-controlled meetings.

The project partners, F&M and LGH, have refused to consider an alternative site that is in an established industrial area and would not impact on residential neighborhoods. They have refused this even though this alternative site would save millions of taxpayer dollars in that it would eliminate the need for excavation of the dump and would not require the building of an access bridge over Harrisburg Pike.

Citizens should write to their elected state and federal officials, including state representative John Bear (http://www.repbear.com/) and Senator Lloyd Smucker (http://senatorsmucker.com/) and tell them that you do not want your tax dollars to be used to relocate the Dillerville Rail Yard to the former LCSWMA’s dump site. Also tell them that you want an independent review of alternative locations.

Particularly at a time of a huge federal deficit and potential lay-offs of several thousand state employees, limited state and federal tax dollars should not be used for a project that will primarily benefit two well-endowed private corporations. This would represent an irresponsible waste of our tax money.