By BOB SHRALUKA
Adams County Economic Development Director Larry Macklin, Decatur Mayor
John Schultz and other local officials would like nothing better than to sometime this weekend unwrap a gift containing the name of a buyer for the onetime Decatur Casting Co. site.
It won't happen this weekend — Santa's not THAT good! — but it could happen in the future. Maybe. Enough people have been working hard to make it happen, that's for sure.
Key steps toward that eventual goal continue to be taken.
The latest: The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) wrote a "site-status letter" which says the property poses no threat to the health of people or the environment. IDEM also noted that there are no state or federal environmental concerns in regard to the area.
Macklin recently informed the county commissioners that the land is suitable for business and industrial uses, but will have several "deed restrictions." That means it can't be used for a housing development, nor the site of a daycare, and not for agricultural uses, among other things.
But the main goal through all the various efforts to clean up the site and ready it for use has been to target a business or industry. In large part because of that railroad spur which runs along the east side of the property, something which is likely to prove highly valuable to certain companies.
Some cleanup work remains to be done, Macklin said the other day. "Maybe a little spilled gasoline or oil; something like that (which isn't a big deal). And there's some concrete still to be removed. But everything is below-risk now and that's what we've been waiting for."
So, if an industry came in today to take a good look at the place, would you be ready to deal?
"Yyyyyeeepppp," Macklin replied, stretching out the word for emphasis. "As far as I'm concerned, that's what we've all been working for for the last two and a half to three years. That's the bottom line, what we've been waiting for all along.
"We may not be able to call it shovel-ready (a technical designation not yet received), but we're still ready to go."
Macklin said the city's street/sanitation superintendent, Jeremy Gilbert, is ready and willing to do the additional cleanup work.
"As soon as we can get some decent photos of the place, Sally (Jackson, Macklin's office aide) will get them on our website and we'll begin marketing the Casting site," he said. And one can bet that some of the photos are going to show that railroad spur.
There's been some mild interest expressed in the site, but nothing anywhere close to solid. But, hey, there's always the next Christmas and maybe that gift can come then. And turning that onetime nasty site into something productive would be a gift of major proportions.
Time limit on rights
In a letter to the editor which appeared in a recent edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, a Fort Wayne resident was all upset because the Occupy Fort Wayne people hadn't been run out of Friemann Square.
"While the occupiers apparently have been peaceable and decent, the continued law-breaking of their overnight presence sets a horrible precedent for Fort Wayne," the letter began.
Horrible? Pretty strong stuff.
Wonder what adjective he'd use if they weren't peaceable and decent.
But the best is yet to come. "The occupiers have gone past the point of exercising their First Amendment rights and...," says our irate citizen.
Guess we need to get a copy of the Constitution and check it out. Didn't realize one's First Amendment rights were only good for a certain period of time.