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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Nov. 11, 2019 1 month ago

3 letters: Nutrient pollution testing for Halifax River won't be easy

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Also: Let's preserve history at former Ormond Beach Union Church property, and OB Life data is misleading
by: Guest Writer

Thanks for listening to us

Dear Editor,

On Nov. 5, those of us who attended the Ormond Beach City Commission were treated to something pretty special. Some residents of Ormond-by-the-Sea spoke; including Michael McBride, who presented over 1,000 signed petitions to insist on scientific testing before we are forced onto Ormond Beach’s city sewer system; Samantha Oehlsen, who related a tale of Ormond-by-the-Sea daily kindness and brought attention to County Chair Ed Kelley’s reluctance to get involved; and Donna Craig, who spoke of her concerns as a new area homeowner. Many Ormond-by-the-Sea residents looked on from the audience, clad in blue to show support. We have been attending and raising our concerns for months, so didn’t expect much. This time though, the Ormond Beach mayor and commissioners responded to our concerns and proved they have been listening.

Mayor Partington called for a halt to the design process until the scientific testing is complete and Commissioner Selby graciously seconded the motion and asserted that Ormond Beach would do more to control other potential sources of nutrient pollution — education and enforcement of Volusia County’s fertilizer ordinance, increasing storage of effluent at the wastewater treatment facility, and a moratorium on new septic systems in Ormond Beach. It can’t have been easy for Commissioner Selby to accept that it is time to step back from this project after the efforts he has made to push it through. Commissioner Persis thanked all who took the time to speak on the topic and expressed agreement. Commissioner Troy Kent shared some wisdom he has learned over the years: “The most important business, when you’re in the business is to mind your own business” and asked the question “why were we doing this, Ormond Beach? Some facts — this is not our city, you’re not our residents … The most important question was never asked — do you want this?” Great point, Commissioner Kent! No one asked us whether we wanted any of this and if our septic systems are not polluting, most of us certainly do not.

I must thank Mayor Partington and all of the Commissioners for their consideration of the concerns of the residents of Ormond-by-the-Sea and for taking the time to address us at the meeting. We are not their constituents, but we deserved to be heard and last night we were, so thank you, leaders of Ormond Beach.

Now the challenge is to ensure that any testing performed is conducted properly — it isn’t an easy task to track down the specific sources of nutrient pollution in a body of water. It will be necessary to determine not only that any water pollution is from human waste, but that it is coming from the septic systems of Ormond-by-the-Sea and not the wastewater treatment plants themselves or the septic systems that are near the waterway in other locations, like the new ones being installed on the other side of the basin in Toscana or any other systems that are close to the water. The river is many miles long and the presence of nutrient pollution from human waste will not point to a particular location. Soil sampling will be in order, and samples will need to be collected over a long enough period of time to take into consideration any seasonal differences in the water table to get to the answers we need to determine whether the systems of Ormond-by-the-Sea are significantly contributing to the nutrient levels of the waterway. Clean water is something we would all like to see, but we need to make decisions about how to reach this goal after conducting the relevant research to choose the best and most effective course of action.

Rashida Hakeem

Ormond-by-the-Sea

Church property has history too

Dear Editor,

This week's Observer had a good article in it, regarding the MacDonald House and the ECHO grant it has requested.

Though it is an old house with history behind it, I cannot help but wonder why the Historical Society or the city has not asked for funding for the oldest Christian Church on the west side of the river, Ormond Beach Union Church.

I'm sure the history of it is known, as when the old wooden bridge was across the river, John D. Rockefeller used to walk across it for the services at OBUC. Story has it that Mr. Rockefeller would give out nickels — no, not dimes as we all were taught in childhood days — to all the children in church. He told them to "hang on to that nickel, as they may need it someday."

Lessons learned from the man who climbed the ladder in life, became a millionaire, and lived in our town of Ormond.

Thinking that history should be taught more, what better use for the Ormond Beach Union Church.

It has been vacant since the day the city took it over, but has yet to be used for anything! Hence, it is decaying away and the history with it. 

It was discussed by city leaders to use it for all to see the many good deeds done in that church through its lifetime by displaying the stories and pictures given to the city office, as well as obtaining more from the Beach Street museum, which had history of OBUC to offer too. 

As we all know, there is plenty of parking space, thanks to a gracious donor of Ormond Beach. The Yacht Club used to be owned by OBUC, with its interesting history, as well as the Fish House across Lincoln on the north side. (Duly named by OBUC, as it was used by many ministers and for the young adult religious classes in recent years.)

So folks, there is a lot of history behind OBUC's lifetime and I think it should be opened up to the public to teach more of Ormond's history. Let's remember too that the chapel at Bailey Riverbridge Gardens was moved there from West Granada Boulevard at the Pilgrim's Rest Cemetery. Also historical.

Please help spread the history of OBUC and its surroundings before it's too late!

Thanks,

Merri Churchill

Ormond Beach

Comments on 'Editor's Note'

Dear editor,

After a very detailed, and informative "Letter to the Editor" in the Observer issue on Nov. 7  ("Add sewer capacity on the beachside"), the editor's note quoted city spokesperson Jenn Elston.  Now, Ms. Elston is a good city employee.  She was very helpful after Hurricane Dorian by calming the residents after said hurricane advising of pick-up of yard debris.

But, I believe that quoting statistics from the dreaded OB Life fiasco was not pertinent to the topic presented by Mr. Young. We have a city population in excess of 40,000 people.  Assuming that 25,000 are adults that would have been capable of attending that OB Life thing, in reality only about 660 attended (and that is stretching it) the six functions.  Now that is a cumulative total of all six meetings.  I attend all six meetings, therefore I was counted six times in the estimated total.  I do not know why anyone quotes data from OB Life.  Those figures are not a true representation of the wants and needs of Ormond Beach.

Also, this was supposed to be a meeting for Ormond Beach residents.  No problem if folks from other local towns showed up.  But, using their headcount in the statistics only skews the OB statistics.  Quoting stats like 48.5% and 3.4% from the OB Life results is not indicative of a qualified sample of our population.  And, to make matters worse, our city commission used this weak sample of data to prepare a fiscal strategic plan to guide the city into the future.

But this manipulation of data is indicative of how we are guided into the future by our fearless leaders.  Perhaps this OB Life thing can best be understood by presenting a simple analogy in the form of a question.  Can you imagine NASA planning and calculating the safety of our astronauts with percentages of 3.4% and 48.5%?  

There is nothing strategic about that.  It just goes to show you that liars can figure and figures can lie.

Ed Kolaska

Ormond Beach

This post was updated at 9:48 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12, to add Ed Kolaska's letter to the editor.

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