AFORR Letter to Public Officials 
Regarding Parcel ED-3

Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation
112 Newcrest Lane
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830

November 11, 2000

Addressed to individual federal and local officials

Advocates for the Oak Ridge Reservation are writing to ask you to urge the Department of Energy to withdraw the recently proposed leasing of 450 acres of land (called Parcel ED-3) on the DOE's Oak Ridge Reservation for commercial and industrial development.  We believe this proposal is a poorly conceived idea that will be counterproductive to its stated objective of promoting economic development in the region.  Our reasons are outlined below.  

No need exists to develop the 450 acres called parcel ED-3.  An extensive industrial park, the Horizon Center (formerly called parcel ED-1), has been established for the same purpose on DOE land nearby. Horizon Center occupies over 900 acres. Its development has barely begun due to lack of funding to complete the infrastructure, and only one tenant has been signed to date.  Even closer to Parcel ED-3 there is considerable unoccupied "brownfield" land available for industrial redevelopment and reuse at the former K-25 Site, now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park. 

A new development at ED-3 would siphon scarce funds away from the redevelopment of the K-25 Site and the development of Horizon Center. It would also create competition for industrial tenants.  It makes no sense to create competition nearby that will lessen the sense that Horizon Center is a vibrant center of activity -- rather than a park "going begging" for tenants. Also, it appears that much of ED-3 would be targeted not for industrial use, but for retail and other commercial development, directly competing with existing underutilized commercial space in the Oak Ridge and Roane County communities.

Not only are we concerned that the proposed ED-3 development would not achieve its intended economic benefits, but we believe that it could have significant adverse impacts on other values. There could be significant adverse impacts to the site and physical remnants of the former Wheat Community, a thriving community that stood in this area before lands and homes were taken to build Oak Ridge for the Manhattan Project. The development would obliterate much of the Wheat Historical District, and could indirectly affect both the newly dedicated Wheat African-American Burial Ground and the George Jones Memorial Baptist Church and Cemetery, which is listed on  the National Register of Historic Places.  The ED-3 development is opposed by many former residents of Wheat, who had their homes taken away by the federal government in the 1940s.

A related concern is that this proposed development could foreclose opportunities for economic benefit from tourism connected with World War II history, the development of the atomic bomb, and the physical legacy of the Manhattan Project, including the remnants of communities like Wheat.  The development of ED-3 would not merely replace the existing natural landscape with "neutral buildings," but would destroy its natural beauty, replacing it with ugly strip development. 

Other negative consequences of the proposed ED-3 development include reducing the area of ecologically valuable unfragmented forest habitat, reducing hunting opportunities for wild turkey and white-tailed deer, and destroying several valuable wetlands. These changes would add to the already dramatic loss of migratory songbirds throughout the region and eastern North America, inhibit efforts to reduce automobile-deer collisions, and reduce the attractiveness of the Oak Ridge Wildlife Management Area as a destination for hunters and wildlife watchers (who are customers for local tourist business).

In summary, AFORR urges the withdrawal of this proposed lease because it is unnecessary, would undermine existing economic development, and would have adverse impacts on environmental resources. 
 
Sincerely,
 
 

John Devereux Joslin, Jr.
President


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