OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – An east Alabama non-profit providing a sanctuary for medically and emotionally fragile children is in danger of closing.
Opelika’s Storybook Farm is fighting to keep a proposed rock quarry from locating nearby and crushing their mission of providing hope on horseback.
Dena Little founded Storybook Farm 18 years ago; the non-profit provides a variety of in-depth and healing animal interactions and therapy for children with special needs. Storybook services are always free to families thanks to generous donors and partnerships with entities like Auburn University.
“Annually, we see about 1500 children who are emotionally and medically fragile. Basically, we invoke the wonderful human-animal bond, and they are ministered to in a variety of ways by our horse, dogs and cats donkeys and even our goat,” shared Little.
However, Little says Storybook’s future is in danger as Creekwood Resources continues the ADEM permitting phase to locate a granite quarry less than 1,000 yards from Storybook off Hwy 431. The potential impact on air and water quality, as well as noise pollution from blasting and gravel trucks, could shut down the non-profit permanently.
“We would be in danger of closing. I can’t imagine a mom who has a child with cystic fibrosis that allows that child to be in an environment that could be dangerous to that child’s health. I have never heard of a good scenario with dynamite, children, and horses. We have children who have PTSD and sensory issues. The air, water, and noise pollution would be awful. Every bit of it is terrible for our families and for also terrible for our animals,” said Little.
Storybook Farm, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, and others are urging concerned residents to share their opposition with ADEM.
“We have done too much good at Storybook to let this happen without a fight,” said Little
Storybook Farm has created an online platform dedicated to their mission of stopping the quarry and saving Storybook. Little and Opelika’s Mayor Gary Fuller are urging residents to get involved by writing a letter to ADEM demanding a public hearing on the quarry .issue. The city has written sample letters you can print, sign, and mail.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management must receive quarry opposition letters by 5 p.m on February 20th. You can address letters to:
Russell A. Kelly,
Chief Permits and Services Division
Alabama Department of Environmental Management
PO Box 301463 Montgomery, AL 36130-1463 Re: Proposed Quarry
NPDES Permit Number: AL0084018
Air Permit, Facility Number: 2006-0050
Mayor Fuller says the quarry would destroy Storybook Farm and the progress Opelika has made while only creating 20 new jobs. The following information is posted to the City of Opelika’s website:
WHY GET INVOLVED:
This will have inherent social and environmental impacts for the citizens of Opelika. This quarry is not in the city limits but is surrounded by city limits on three sides. It is one mile from Grand National Golf Course, two miles from the Marriott Hotel, and hundreds of homes. It is one mile from Storybook Farms. Trucks from the quarry will pass three of our local schools (Morris Avenue, Jeter and Opelika High School), as well as Southern Union State Community College. This quarry will affect traffic, noise, air quality, etc., but there are two major issues that
ADEM will pay attention to two major concerns:
• Dust and air quality (pollution) – aggregate operations create dust. From extraction, from moving the aggregate, from screening and crushing, and from trucks entering and exiting the processing area. Fine particulate matter is a respiratory hazard. Airborne silica, a byproduct of aggregate processing, is a known carcinogen. Suppression equipment and processes can reduce the release of dust and fine particulate matter into the air, but they can’t eliminate it. Diesel fumes from trucks and equipment can have a negative impact on air quality.
• Damage to our primary source of drinking water (Saugahatchee Lake) – Discharge will run into tributaries that run into Saugahatchee. Pits and quarries that extract near or into the water table, aquifers, or aquitards (layers of soil that protect the underlying aquifers) can impact local wells and our lakes, negatively affecting both quality and quantity of water available.
Elizabeth Revell with CreekWood Resources community relations tells News 3 she attended a meeting on January 31st on behalf of the company with concerned stakeholders in Opelika regarding the quarry.
“CreekWood is a company that is sincerely interested in informing the community on the facts regarding the proposed quarry. CreekWood wants to hear any issues, concerns or questions the community has. In turn, we will address and respond. The Company looks forward to the potential of becoming a good neighbor and corporate citizen for many years to come. As demonstrated at the meeting, this is a community that cares and CreekWood Resources is a company that cares,” said Revell.
News 3 will continue to follow this developing story.