Since the end of 2019 and until February 29th, Alliance Metals and Rose Law-PR firm have spent time revising their plans in attempt to make the smelter more acceptable to the community. Their mission: winning over the hearts and minds of the people of McMullen Valley.
Alliance made a valiant effort but it appears that they have failed to change anyone’s minds. The community remains solidly against them building a smelter here.
- They mailed a letter to the community that outlined the changes they were prepared to make and asked for another chance. Many people did not receive the letter, several people received empty envelopes and many received envelopes that were stuffed with multiple copies of the letter. We have heard that the letter was not well received, that the concessions did not sway any minds and for many, it increased the feeling that Alliance is not being truthful and can’t be trusted.
- They had to abort two open houses that were planned at local restaurants because they failed to talk to the owners before announcing them. They not only alienated the owners, the owners essentially said “NO MEETING”.
- They scheduled an open house at the Community Center and actually got a much higher attendance than they had anticipated. Alliance got a chance to speak to the community and tried to convince us that their smelter in Wenden is a good idea. There were over 100 people in attendance; most hammered Loren Barton, VP Alliance Metals, with questions, comments and outrage. Had Alliance given earlier notice and had there not been all of the activities already scheduled in the community, there would have been more in attendance. Its almost as if they were hoping for a low attendance. While Loren should be congratulated for hanging in there and doing his best, no one left convinced. In fact, many people left more angry than when they arrived. They felt the answers were lacking, that their concerns were still not being heard and that the information provided was inadequate. They expected a presentation but instead Loren spoke with small groups of people which frustrated many who attended. Many felt it was unprofessional and it resulted in not everyone hearing everything that was going on and the same questions being asked over and over. All in all, it was less than successful.
I have heard a few comments that this was a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was one more step in the battle to prevent this smelter from coming into our community. It was another rebuke, this time directly to the company, not the attorneys or the PR firm. It also was an additional demonstration to our county officials that despite the changes that Alliance is willing to make, the community is steadfast in it’s opposition to this development.
Additionally, Holly Irwin, our Supervisor, and D.L. Wilson, Supervisor for District 1, were in attendance.
For some reason, Duce Minor, who has become the champion of this project, was not in attendance, supposedly because of a prior commitment…I guess he had to wash his cat.
In any event, this meeting reinforced the position of the community to Holly and even more important at this point, gave many stakeholders the opportunity to speak directly to D.L. Wilson, whose organization, The La Paz Economic Development Corporation, brought us this problem in the first place. For the entire time that he was in attendance, he was surrounded by citizens demanding answers and making complaints about the idea of bring a smelter to McMullen Valley. He got an earful.
Even with the stipulations that Alliance Metals has said they are willing to make, the facts remain that there are certain aspects of an aluminum smelter and it’s proposed location that can not be changed:
- This facility would still pollute, up to 35 tons per year.
- This location is still on the edge of a flood plain, in close proximity of a major wash and within the bounds of the Wenden subsidence bowl and is sinking.
- This operation would generate a tremendous amount of heavy truck traffic.
- The smelter operation would generate over 200,000 pounds of hazardous salt cake that presents a disposal problem.
- It presents the possibility of contaminating the aquifer under the valley.
- And in the end, it is a heavy industrial facility that is inappropriate in McMullen Valley.
We are coming to the end of this battle. The meeting for the Supervisors to make a decision on this project has been scheduled for March 16th, at 3:00 pm at the Centennial Community Center. For those of us who oppose this project we need to make a strong showing and be prepared to state our opinion.
This could well be the break it or make it meeting. At this event the project will either be approved, rejected or sent back to the P&Z Commission, which would prolong the process and is unwarranted. We hope it is rejected. I will provide additional information regarding this very important meeting in subsequent posts.
In the mean time, for anyone, especially the County Supervisors, who may have forgotten how the P&Z meeting went, here is a little reminder:
Click on the video link below for a new short video of the P&Z meeting: