It’s rarely good news when cost estimates come in too high for a government project to go forward, but that’s not true in the case of digging for coal in South Park. Unexpectedly high costs mean the mining won’t happen, preventing a bad idea from becoming a reality.
County officials were exploring the possibility of excavating coal from under one of the park’s most prominent sites, the former home to the county fairgrounds where a large field and track oval still exists. They had considered it as a way to make extra money that could go toward park projects.
Now it’s been determined that the coal seam is 60 feet underground, not the 5 feet originally thought. That means getting the 63,000 tons of coal out would require tearing up an elaborate drainage system that is under the site, an expense that might have exceeded the value of the coal itself.
Cost wasn’t the problem from the point of view of many park users. They feared that having an active mining operation would damage the tranquility and usability of one of the region’s largest parks.
Although the decision to drop the idea wasn’t made for the best reason, it was the right outcome.