Editor, The Beacon:
Something becomes apparent when attending DeLand City Commission meetings and listening to the discussion on the dais about the proposed 600-home development on the former Southridge Golf Course. It’s the lack of concern.
There are calm stares — and an absence of stringency, a detachment and a serious deficit of curiosity while phrases like “toxic heavy metals,” “leaching poisons,” “cancer cluster,” “dieldrin” and “arsenic” are knowledgeably presented by experts and the public alike.
Instead, the response by some commissioners to hundreds of technical data points on environmental time bombs cover “property rights” (without clear concern for the property rights of adjacent owners or water users downstream); others explain that their “hands are tied” regarding zoning, so the development must go forward (Damn the cancer-causing torpedoes! Full speed ahead!).
Some commissioners briefly haggle over tiny variations in the numbers of cookie-cutter homes to be piled on top of the clear-cut sand and lingering poisons.
Where’s the concern? Where is the diligence and scrutiny? Where is the logically sequenced plan to address the potentially deadly combination of decades of golf-course toxins and an unregulated city dump below?
A skeleton of a plan was hastily assembled at the very end of the City Commission’s Nov. 22nd meeting on Beresford Reserve. (“I know! We’ll hire the city’s own expert to make sure the developer’s experts are doing it right! The end.”)
But what was done? Has the city chosen a non-biased expert prior to the upcoming City Commission meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31? Since no substantial progress has been made on evaluating the pollutants on the site since November, how would an expert be able to provide any new and useful insights?
In the “new” Beresford Comprehensive Report posted to the DEP’s website earlier this month, previously withheld data from a 2018 study show that some of the monitoring wells on this site have extremely acidic water (pH between 3-5), which is not normal for here. And five of seven monitoring wells installed in 2021 and sampled last October show high levels of cancer-causing dieldrin. But, that’s “all OK” because residents living on the site will be on city water. The “new” report also confirms that groundwater from the site flows west, straight toward three city wells along Amelia Avenue.
Will Jan. 31 be just another multi-slide, hand-waving, quick-talking lawyer-show to slide this thing through?