An ‘ambiguous’ impact on adjacent landowners poses survey question — could it be both?

Bruce Sassmann

The Rock Island corridor informational meetings are over. Owensville, Versailles, and Meta were host communities along the former mechanized pathway.

A survey form provided by the state parks asked participants to rank five items of importance regarding the trail. The most ambiguous of the five choices was stated as “Impact on Adjacent Land Owners.”

If this item was ranked as the most important, would the choice be thought of as a positive impact or a negative impact?   Could it be both?

The land adjacent to this stretch of the Rock Island corridor is rural mix of farms, small towns and villages. The people in this part of the state choose to live where traffic lights in towns are rare and the farms are just the right distance apart.   

There are those who think a recreational trail would improve the quality of life for themselves and their communities.   They believe the trail would bring higher property values and increased economic opportunities. A trail might enhance the possibilities for community growth and progress. Many have great hopes and dreams of a future full of new possibilities. For those folks, their perception of an “impact on adjacent landowners” would be positive. But for others, their lifestyle may be forever disrupted. Some folks value their privacy and seclusion more money.

To some, property values are enhanced by the distance away from all the hustle and bustle of civilized life. A place of seclusion offering peace and tranquility is becoming a rare commodity in this invasion of expanding populations.

Some folks are at risk of losing a priceless lifestyle for which no amount of money could ever reimburse them for their loss. For these folks, the trail will have a negative “impact on adjacent landowners.”

The most ambiguous question of the five on the survey form may ultimately be the most important. Will the decision be decided by dollars and dreams or by the sentiment for a simpler lifestyle?   

There are of course other considerations on the survey, but the outcome of the decision will be felt most by the adjacent landowners.