While we totally respect any organization to hold any view it chooses and to express that view through purchase of time and space in the media, it seemed sort of amusing that these time-honored institutions of conservancy should suddenly spring to life (all at one time) to put their stamp of disapproval on a long thought-out and certainly winning highway route desperately needed in the generations to come as the quickest, most logical and convenient pathway. And come on folks, let’s be real and honest…one that is truly not destructive to the valued human life or wildlife of the area.
LET’S NAME the groups: Good folks. All of them. Very well meaning (dues paying) citizens. But by what stroke of magic or coincidence did these state and nationwide diverse arms of opinion just happen to “come together” suddenly as a “group of 12”, plus one small municipality, explicitly for the purpose of denying Romans their best (and perhaps last) chance at a 35 year quest—-one that would help to correct the injustice of being located more conveniently on the route of I-75.
Georgia Conservancy; Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club; Georgia Land Trust; Georgia Conservation Voters; Georgia Wildlife Federation; Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation; Atlanta Audubon Society; Georgia Ornithological Society; Georgia River Network; Defenders of Wildlife; Georgia Native Plant Society; Georgia Botanical Society….and our neighbors in Euharlee.
All apparently rushed in hurriedly to cast their ballots to stop this terrible injustice to a very small portion of Rollins owned land. We’re not sure where the Euharleeans were when the largest coal-burning electricity generating plant in the nation was built well inside their community boundary. Thank Heavens they didn’t jump in and stop that project or we might all be watching television at night in the dark.
I AM CERTAINLY NOT (nor I suspect are any other proponents of this route) guilty of wealth envy, involved in class warfare, or even remotely thinking of raising the specter of destruction of precious wildlife, especially on somebody else’s land. Be assured we are in no way critical of these valuable institutions dedicated to preservation of good things God given. But we find it strange that one of these organizations has never in its entire history raised up and spoken against a highway—in spite of hundreds, perhaps thousands of roads being cut through mountains, forests and marshes in Georgia. Much could be made of the things taking place in the precious marshes of Georgia Conservancy’s back door right there in Savannah.
Googling my memory, I don’t seem to remember these people suddenly banding together as a bully pulpit of 12 to stop Georgia Highway 400 from slicing up long established and beautiful and historic neighborhoods of long standing down the road there in Atlanta.
Nor do I recall feeling the earth move as all these folks jumped up and down screaming over I-285 encircling Atlanta and forever changing the face of neighborhoods, communities and even small municipalities around our capital city.
AS THE STAFF members of these organizations (almost all living in Atlanta environs) pack up their boats and jet skis for fun on Allatoona and Lanier do we recall their standing in line to protest the two dams built to make us the vacation area of the region?
Chances are the ones who last month formulated the papers given to the Rollins lawyers for this latest effort were mere children when far-sighted planners were mapping out improvements to make us one of the best and most-visited tourist sites in the South.
Our biggest amusement came however when we checked the home offices of these organizations and found them all pretty much within downtown Atlanta (like on Peachtree), or located in Savannah, or in one case in Washington, D.C. — and of course Euharlee residents don’t really need 411 in order to drive to the big city. Easy to be critical of us up here — especially when you don’t have to travel on our road, or take our unwieldy detours, or stop at our growing abundance of traffic lights — or for the next (estimated) five decades walk in our shoes.
Quite amusing to find a Savannah-oriented organization in the group with condemnation for us here, especially after watching their beautiful marshes crushed under concrete for a series of roadways recently completed to build their economy and ease their travel to the suburbs or their favorite beaches.
NO FOLKS, it is not “class warfare” in which we’re involved. It’s helping decide that for the next 50 years with gas and fuel being the problem that it is, that our children and our grandchildren, our visitors, and our industries, and our trucks and our pleasure vehicles, will each and every one be required 24 hours a day 365 days a year to drive four miles north to be able to drive south on I-75.
And for what reason?
Of course, that pyritric rock weathering along the way is really quite a threat to everybody’s health—-(thank goodness we live not far from the CDC down at Emory who can help us out when we destroy ourselves with those rock drippings) but the organizations represented here pretty much don’t have to worry because they don’t live here, or work here.
Did the dues-paying members respond on this issue to surveys within their organization? Did they elect to gang up in this 13-member bully pulpit to put us in our place? Or, did a small staff, speaking not for the membership, but utilizing the force of their well respected and strong organizations, simply jump in quick when the lawyers felt they needed some help because good sense was about to become part of the argument.
The Rollins name is legendary in doing good things such as huge and meaningful gifts to Emory, Berry, perhaps to these organizations listed, and dozens of other good works.
But how good is it to slap the face of all the people in our beautiful and historic area by making all these claims of environmental doomsday with a road-cut through Dobbins mountain? Heck, every time I drive I encounter road cuts.
MUST I BELIEVE that if the Rollins family had enjoyed this level of say-so in the past, there simply wouldn’t be any roads around? Roads around Atlanta, around Savannah through the marshes, along our jeweled islands on our coast, around Columbus by the Chattahoochee, by Augusta on the Savannah River, or Macon by the Ocmulgee.
We Romans (and by the way, we have three rivers to protect) have the highest respect for your organizations, but it is possible that good lawyers and a willing staff that never drives the road, might have led you into an endorsement position fight that you really don’t have a dog in.
Michael H. McDougald, long-time Rome broadcasting executive, writes an occasional column for the Rome News-Tribune.