Gravel pits are never popular with neighbors, no matter where they are situated, but they are a necessary fact of life if roads are to be built and maintained and new construction is to take place.
Neighbors of the Roxy Ann Rock gravel quarry are objecting to the number of heavy trucks rumbling down the hill, citing safety concerns. The recent expansion of Prescott Park also is bringing increased visits from hikers and cyclists, setting up some potential conflicts.
No one seems to be arguing that the gravel quarry should shut down; the objections seem to center on the frequency of truck trips and their use of park roads.
The quarry has been operating in that location since 1956 — long before most nearby residences were constructed. Since the mid-1980s, the terms of agreements between the city and quarry operators have varied. At one time, daily truck trips were limited to 24, although the current agreement, signed in 2013, does not limit trips, and one neighbor said he's counted as many as 60 in a day.
Trucks are allowed to operate from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and only on weekdays. Speed is limited to 25 mph, and quarry operator Burl Brim says he makes sure drivers adhere to the rules.
If park users are bothered by the gravel trucks, they can visit the park on weekends, when no trucks are running. Neighbors have no such option.
Shutting down a quarry that has operated for 60 years seems unreasonable, given the need for aggregate in building projects of all kinds and the difficulty of siting a new quarry somewhere else.
But given the proposed expansion of the quarry from 12 to 30 acres, it might be wise for city officials to revisit the agreement. For starters, more than double the acreage shouldn't lead to more than double the truck trips.
In addition, the agreement allows gravel trucks to use park roads in exchange for about $10,000 in work on the park each year. If the quarry is getting bigger, and the park is as well, maybe the amount of work should increase too.