The Brooker Town Hall meeting was a meeting of surprises. There was intense interest because the Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, under the training and guidance of Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Sierra Club was able to put the phosphate mine on the agenda, and Mayor Melvin had promised Becky Parker she could speak to the issue and present a seven-minute video about the mine, Brooker and Bradford County.
Before the video was presented, Mayor Gene Melvin, eyeing the large crowd, made it clear that the meeting he was to chair was not a meeting about the mine. The mine was on the agenda and would be heard by the video but no public comment would be accepted, as the board had city business to address.
The first surprise came when, unexpectedly, they ran out of seats and moved the empty front row to the back, and then had to bring many more out of the closet to accommodate the 35-plus attendees.
Becky gave a rundown on the mine and what could be expected to accompany it, and then ran the video. It, too, was a surprise to your writer, beautifully, professionally written and presented and pertinent to the topic and area of Bradford County. Convincing and impactful.
After the video, a few board members began asking questions, and then members of the audience chimed in, and a conversation was soon underway with Mayor Melvin, many members of the audience and little by little, most of the board members.
Mr. Melvin’s main concern was with the water, its quality, quantity and its prospects under a mine scenario. Other board members, such as Pamela Johnson expressed concern for the general milieu surrounding Brooker as a healthy place to raise children should the mine be next door. Members of the audience were copiously and bountifully forthcoming with many additional facts about mines regarding health issues, plummeting property values, vanished wildlife, ruined rivers and aquifers, and so on in detail. And the board listened to it all and agreed.
So that was the other surprise. The somewhat foreboding and dire aspect projected at first by the council chair, turned into congeniality, agreement and a resolve to preserve the rural and healthy paradise that is the Brooker community. And under his leadership, all the others on the board followed suit.
So the result was the board voted unanimously to accept the resolution, written by Carol Mosely, included at the end of this post.
Thanks to all who came, and you filled the room, and we note our loyal Charlie Trowbridge and Jane Blaise from our neck of the words. Chris Mericle traveled from distant Madison County, and Marc Lyon from McClenny, always ready to help. Plus the hardworking and loyal local group of Citizens Against Phosphate Mining in B/U.
And before leaving, we request that you write to City Attorney John Maines, Joe Tolleson, Doug Hayes, Curtis Clark, Pamela Johnson and Mayor Gene Melvin, 17435 Tetstone Avenue / PO Box 127 Brooker, FL 32622 and thank them for caring for our environment.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
RESOLUTION NUMBER ________OF THE BROOKER CITY COUNCIL, BRADFORD COUNTY, FLORIDA, IN OPPOSITION TO THE MINING OF PHOSPHATE IN BRADFORD COUNTY.
Whereas the City of Brooker is a quiet agricultural and residential community with vast physical resources of good groundwater, air filtered by the trees surrounding it, and abundant wildlife, yet with few governmental resources (an elementary school, post office and community hall), we are very protective of the resources and services we do have;
Whereas HPSII, is a Limited Liability Corporation, formed by a local resident with large land holdings and a group of families from Union County. And, HPSII has submitted a permit application to the Bradford County Commission requesting a zoning exception that would allow phosphate mining on nearly 4,000 acres in Bradford County on what is now zoned agricultural;
Whereas the land proposed for phosphate mining will literally adjoin our city of Brooker and will run the length of the New River, we have a vested concern about the effect on the water quality of our wells, the availability of wildlife for hunting and fishing, and the negative impact on property values;
Whereas the proposed permit calls for night and day operations six or seven days per week, we are certain our quality of life will suffer from a loss of rightful peace and tranquility from the obvious noise and light pollution the mining will produce;
Whereas our karst geology is prone to sinkholes and our area is known for high levels of radon gas, we believe the risk to our land and health is extensive and the rewards are none. We have seen the very real possibility of sinkholes dumping radioactive waste into the aquifer, and of smaller sink holes occurring from the extraction of tremendous amount of water for phosphate mining in other areas. We are aware that the highest indoor concentrations of lung cancer causing radon gas are found in regions where mining exists;
Whereas we believe the Bradford Board of County Commission has not sufficiently afforded the residents adequate time for investigation of the costs versus benefit nor have they taken it upon themselves to perform the due diligence necessary to assure that whatever decision is made will be based on wise reflection of possible future detriment and with respect to the rights of all Bradford County residents;
Whereas this Board is tasked with the responsibility to act in the best interests of our city, and since we have received considerable opposition from our residents, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Brooker City Council hereby:
(1) Requests that the Bradford County Commission deny the zoning change application of HPSII, (2) requests a moratorium to provide time to perform due diligence, (3) requests additional public meetings on the issue of future mining in our county
ADOPTED this ________________ day of February, 2017.
Signature of Date
Signature of Date