It seems like a great opportunity. 70 acres of undeveloped land in the middle of Noblesville. The problem, of course, is that its polluted. For years, Firestone and its predecessors dumped dangerous chemicals on the land, and its going to be very difficult to clean up.
But we have to do it. The land is right between a residential area and our major retail center. It’s not acceptable to have it fenced off with barbed wire forever. Federal grants are available to help clean up these sites, yet for the past nine years it has sat there, abandoned and ignored by our city officials. It is truly a blighted area and needs attention.
A few ideas have been proposed for the land over the years: a bus barn or storage facility come to mind. The mayor once proposed a dog park but nothing has happened. Most recently the police chief has been promoting the idea of building a new police station on the slab that used to hold the building. I like that idea. The slab wasn’t polluted like the ground around it and apparently is buildable. A new police station could spur new development around the site.
There are restrictions. Firestone has said they would never allow residences to be built on the land because of past pollution. Some of the land is more polluted than the rest. There is apparently a dump that still hold buried barrels full of poison. For more on this saga, go here.
I know this is a tough situation. Clean up will be expensive and dangerous. It may seem like the best alternative is just to leave it all in the ground and try to ignore it. But it’s right in the middle of town and I don’t think we can ignore it forever. The best solution is to bite the bullet: clean it up the right way, haul away the poisons, scrub the land clean and put it back into productive use.
It’s been nine years of neglect. Its time to act. The proposed police station is a good start but that’s the easy part. It’s time to tackle the hard part.