Community members flood county council in protest of the Indiana Enterprise Center
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Holding signs and speaking passionately, concerned St. Joseph County residents rallied in opposition of an industrial park that could be coming to New Carlisle.
Farmers, business owners and environmentalists all gathered for a brief protest Tuesday against the development of the Indiana Enterprise Center before heading inside the St. Joseph County Council meeting where the 2020 budget was discussed. Protesters are hoping the council will use the budget to slow down the development of the IEC.
The proposed development could take over thousands of acres of farmland and displace dozens of people on the county’s Westside. Protesters said the mega industrial complex would have negative impacts on the county including threatening their quality of life
“We want them to know how we feel about this push to industrialize our area,” Jack Daley said, who came to the council meeting Tuesday. “It’s the loss of the way of life of the rural, farm way of life. That’s why I live out there. When I leave my job here in town and I go home if know I’m not in the city.”
The county hopes to attract big companies with the development and create jobs, but in the process, they’ll be destroying 22,000 acres of prime farmland and that’s something that upsets longtime New Carlisle resident Theresa Serry.
“It’s really hard to swallow,” Serry said. “This development is talking about taking over 22,000 acres which will take a rural community and destroy it. Our children will live here hopefully, or they won’t. Our children will have food because our farm still exists, or they won’t because farms have been destroyed by cement and asphalt.”
County council president Rafael Morton said he will take the concerns presented by the citizens of New Carlisle into consideration. He also stressed that the economic redevelopment commission is not directly under the council’s control. They are who will make the final decision on what happens next with the proposed Indiana Enterprise Center.
“I applaud the passion and the comments that came out tonight from the concerned citizens but at the same time when I hear comments that it’s a done deal or that we as a council do not want the people of New Carlisle to know what’s going on, I have to humbly disagree with that.”