By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

DEQ drops bomb on county parks plan

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I think Mary Stern should call for Mr. Huffer to be fired for not revealing the DEQ's information. What else has he chosen not to reveal in other situations? That is just slimy.....he knew the place is toxic, but he still wanted to proceed. Thank goodness Cami was there! He is wasting the county's money to redo a park that was closed down for good reasons and will probably be flooded out's just idiotic. Choosing the success of a "project" over the safety of citizens is highly questionable! He wants his resume' to look good.... I tell you when and if the park is reopened, I bet he won't let his kids play in the dirt and run is the grass.......I know I won't!


Wow! government FOR the people???? The parks department and board are supposed to be doing what's best for the people of the county. But parks manager Huffer doesn't care what DEQ has to say about leakage, seepage and fumes from the old dump site that they are trying ram through as a new park? Neighbors have repeatedly said there were issues with the old dump and the siting of a park there. DEQ says there are problems but Huffer who has the report from DEQ chooses to hide it from county commissioners and the public. County Commissioners should have asked for DEQ info right up front and not tried to lead the testimony toward awarding the conditional use permit. It's time for parks and the commissioners to look for a more suitable site.

Also, neighbors were told they had to show economic hardships from this proposed park and they did that. So why did parks and commissioners downplay that?


Great comments! Mr. Huffer specifically asked for DEQ's input on this matter, and actually referenced a time line (August 17th) in his email so he could hear back from them by the August 23rd hearing with the County Commissioner's. His decision not to include any of the explosive information contained in the intergovernmental review response email speaks volumes. He knew if he would have presented this material, the county would not have voted in his favor. It was reprehensible of him to cover up such crucial information to further his own agenda. How can we ever trust someone like that, and it begs the question of how much more isn't he sharing that we, the public, have a right to know?

Of course, there is no doubt at all that the county will stand behind Mr. Huffer completely and come up with some cockamamie reason for his not disclosing the information. Does anyone doubt that? What the county wants, the county gets. How can we not believe that when we are forced to look at Riverbend Trash Mountain every single day? When we are forced to smell that putrid odor emanating from it?

As park opponents and neighbor's, we have worked very hard to gather enough evidence to show that this is a very poor site for a park, and I think we have succeeded. Who would want to take a child to a park that is so close to an old, toxic dump site, and within smelling and sight of the Riverbend Lanfill? Some days, we the neighbors, are practically forced into our homes the smell is so vile, and we aren't nearly as close as this proposed park would be.

I want to say a special thank-you to the News-Register for publishing the truth of the matter, and especially to Nathalie Hardy for doing such a great job reporting this issue. I hope she won't have any negative feedback from the county for doing her job.


There seems to be no accountabiliy for ones actions if you are a manager for the parks department. Mr. Huffer's actions by not disclosing the possible risks that he was advised of by DEQ to the county commissioners at the Aug. 23 meeting makes it very clear that he has lost all objectivity and moral guidelines when it comes to this project. I also question why the planning commissioners are being ignored on this issue since "planning" is their area of expertise. Surely we can count on OUR county commissioners to see through the guise of vague suggestions of "we will fix any problems that arise" with this fictional future park in Mr. Huffer's fantasy land. It has been a DUMP site for the 40 years and it will always be a DUMP site. In addition, the present dump just across the river from the proposed site is a huge looming creature of vast proportion and smell to enhance the park experince for Mr. Huffer's imaginary childern frolick ning in his park. I only wish that this site could be all that he wanted it to be, but it is not, and never will be. Give it up.


This is just another case of local politicians not listening to what the public is saying. No one would take their kids to a park that has oozing landfill by it weather its toxic or not. Come on county commissioners, do the right thing and don't waste taxpayer's money on such a stupid idea.


Once the DEQ information was revealed they agreed to address the issue....sounds like Ms Stern and the commission took the aproprate action.


Yes Hacksaw, they did do that. Unfortunately, during the entire hearing, two of the three commissioner's were actually advocating for the park. At one point, Commissioner George actually used the word "we" in reference to the parks board, but then quickly changed it. It was extremely frustrating to be an opponent in that hearing. I about fell off my chair at one point, when all three commissioner's were standing at the wall map of the proposed park with park opponents Dale and Eloise Middleton, and the COMMISSIONER'S were actually trying to find alternate routes into the proposed park! Seriously. Doing the park's job for them--bet Mr. Huffer and the park board was grinning inside at that point.We went into the meeting hoping for a fair, unbiased hearing, where both sides presented their case, and then the commissioner's ruled on the issue, just like we did with the Planning Commissioner's. Instead, we walked into a meeting of "how can we make this park happen? What do we have to do to make you opponents happy so you'll shut up and we can go about doing exactly what it is we want to do?" It was if we were at a mediation, not a hearing. Extremely disheartening to say the least. And they were so contentious toward the opponents--at one point Commissioner Lewis was basically yelling at poor Mr. Upshaw (another park opponent). I have to say, at least Mary Stern, even if she was completely on board with passing the conditional use permit, at least didn't show that (well, except for at the end with the Middleton's). I could see wanting clarification, and asking questions for that purpose, but they were acting as if the park was a done deal, so let's make it work, okay? We thought we stood a chance of getting it shut down, but guess they think differently. We've met all criteria, and the Planning Commission was quite unbiased during our hearing with them. Too bad this hearing wasn't that way.


I would have to say that if I was Mary Stern I would be quite embarrassed to be part of such a fiasco. The planning Commission has botched this project and now are trying to "save face"...... Although Hardy did do a great job reporting.....the headline is misleading. The DEQ did not drop a "bombshell"....Mr Huffer neglected to include it in his report.....Which is neglecting the welfare of all who would use the park....just once though as they will never return because it stinks so bad! Its embarassing to me that we have such a "out of touch"and clueless Planning Commission.


Throughout the hours-long hearing, Mary Stern was the only county commissioner that didn't noticably show a bias toward the park proponents (well, as I said above, except for one small instance with the Middleton's.) It's easy to like and respect an official thats acts unbiased, shows good humor, is kind and respectful to BOTH sides, and doesn't ask leading questions that further either proponent or opposition agendas. She may have come into the meeting knowing she would vote yes for the park, but because of her professionalism, no one in that room could tell it. Too bad the other two commissioner's didn't emulate her demeanor.

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