The groundwork is being laid for a knock-down, drag-out debate whether to reopen the Idaho-Maryland mine.
But here’s a twist: I’m starting to hear buzz whether the fight to reopen the mine — more contentious than the growth measures or NH 2020 — will stall what some leaders see as more desirable projects that are in the pipeline, such as housing at Loma Rica Ranch and Kenny Ranch.
While die-hard no-growthers oppose all housing projects, more middle of the road people see both of these as “smart growth” plans, with lots of walkable space. This group includes influential people in business and government.
The same people are more on the fence about reopening the mine, however, citing concerns about air pollution and traffic. Others point to some tech firms — a real asset here — who fear vibrations from the mine will interrupt their business.
The local paper seems to be gung-ho for the mine to reopen — both in its editorials and on the news pages.
I was surprised to see an article above the fold on Feb. 4 about an alleged vandalism incident back in May 2006. The headline read “Grass Valley Mine Shaft vandalized.” It was not breaking news. It should have been promoted in a less prominent place.
This morning, the lead news item is “Mine touts investments as gold hits a grand.” It suggested that the mine would fetch $5 billion on the open market.
But that’s misleading: Gold price fluctuate wildly, the city would see no sales tax from that, and sales from the ceramic tile plant are highly unpredictable.
I’m glad the article raised some of these issues, but I wondered about the article’s positioning on the front page — as with the earlier one.
Some smart, middle of the road business people around here also are questioning the experience of Emgold, which is trading at 5 cents per share and has not opened a gold mine before.
I like the idea of a ceramic plant as a side-light business and think the management is earnest. But it would be a big mistake to assume that just the “no-growthers” are opposed to reopening the mine.
It will require some straight talk and diplomacy for both sides to get their arguments across — not the same old “Yosemite Sam” shootout.
I’ll be watching for that, as well as the impact on the housing projects.