The OBSERVER's View (July 11) "Riding high with business," poses the rhetorical question: "Is there something in the water in Sheridan?"
The non-rhetorical answer is: a) raw sewage in Lake Erie, and b) natural gas in well water. Both of these factors have stymied residential development in Sheridan in a long area from Buffalo to Cleveland which has almost continuous coastal development.
Lines of my family have lived continuously in Sheridan since 1804. I have taken manifold opportunities to visit my relatives and their neighbors there across 60 years and to examine the documents and tombstones of my Sheridan ancestors.
Early in my life I heard about the raw sewage drifting from Dunkirk which made one lakefront vacation residence of a relative unpleasant to that relative and to me. The creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972 has dramatically reduced this problem.
More frequent and continuing complaints have related to salty wellwater associated with natural gas infiltrating from petroleum deposits penetrated by wells. In dry summers, the wells have gone dry. Within the last 10 years, water lines from Dunkirk have been extended onto certain roads, promising a dependable water supply for the first time.
The editors point to the small population of Sheridan as an incentive to business. The few widely separated houses per acre there require a small fire department for protection and contaminated water can be pumped or trucked from the lake in most months for fire extinguishing. Consequently, the expenses of local government are small.
Factory operators arriving in Sheridan today find primarily the flat expanses of Dunkirk airport and reforested sheep pastures.without, neighboring residents to complain about noise, odor, and dust. The early 19th century wool industry of Sheridan took a big hit when Eagle Bay silted up and ships could no longer land to remove the wool to market. This was a big stimulus to agricultural abandonment and relocation.
The reason for Sheridan's current opportunity for industrial development relates more to historic now-remedied environmental depredation at points downcurrent (west) on the lake shore and salty wells than to small government and low taxes, both the consequence of a small population primarily of field croppers and vineyardists who relocate to their vacation residences in other places in the summer.
Increasing industrial development will require more emergency service and taxation to support it.
Michael C. Barris, Ph.D., is a Fredonia resident.