Wednesday evening 200 or so concerned citizens attended a public hearing held at the Brockway Area High School sponsored by Joe Scarnati. They met with representatives from Department of Environmental Protection and the Flatirons gas company to discuss the application to drill a second well on the Brockway Borough Municipal Authority’s watershed. The Courier Express did a good job at informing the public as to much of the content of the meeting http://www.thecourierexpress.com/courierexpresscourierexpresslocal/951082-349/dep-keeping-close-eye-on-drilling-in.html.
What was lacking was a summary of the overall mood of the citizenry. The audience was polite and quiet for the hour and 45 minutes that the DEP and Flatirons explained what they are doing but the meeting still had another two hours and twenty minutes to go. The question and answer time was anything but quiet and calm. It was obvious that the citizens had prepared for this meeting and they did their homework. A special thanks to Sen. Scarnati for doing such a good job at announcing and inviting. It really paid off in the quality of questions and the attendance.
In the audience we could sense frustration and helplessness. People were afraid of the future and upset with the current precautions that are in place to protect them. Some seemed like animals caught in a car’s headlights just before becoming road kill. Panic is probably too strong of a word to use but it was obvious that they were distraught over the situation in which they were trapped.
Flatirons and the DEP appeared to be holding their own at alleviating people’s fears but the biggest conflict of the evening appeared when one of the constituents accused Rep. Sam Smith of not responding to three of his letters regarding his water safety concerns. Mr. Smith replied the best that he could but not well enough to satisfy that constituent who sat down with one last comment. “It sounds like you’re on the wrong side of the table Mr. Smith,” implying that Mr. Smith should be sitting with the gas company rather than the audience. At that point the audience broke out with a thunderous round of applause and cheers. With that Senator Scarnati jumped up to the podium and scolded the audience for getting distracted from the main reason for being at the town hall meeting. He was obviously angry with the audience who had their frustration mounting. He reminded them that we didn’t come here to discuss politics but rather to open dialog between the concerned parties and the citizens.
The forum of speakers did provide a plethora of information in response to the questions. But as Sunny106 reported, http://www.sunny106.fm/default.asp?pid=109332, the next morning many of the citizens were complaining afterwards that their questions and concerns were not properly addressed. More than one person was overheard to comment that this was an election year and they still had hope for change.