August 21, 2014

Elyria
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Residents have mixed feelings, skepticism on quarry project

SOUTH AMHERST — The vibe surrounding the new quarry project for some residents ranges between skepticism and disbelief.

For many living in the rural, single-stop-light village, the belief that someone would invest millions into a whimsical, residential wonderland collapsed with the now-defunct $1.25 billion Trans European proposal.

“You mean the bubble project,” said a 55-year-old South Amherst man referencing Trans European’s initial renderings featuring a large, year-round dome.

“I knew that thing never stood a chance,” the resident said. “Whatever they’re planning now, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

No, this isn’t the bubble project. Rather, Industrial Realty Group announced Tuesday that it’ll begin selling homes this spring for a new upscale, residential development using the quarries as its backdrop.

The plans include a long-talked-about sewer line that’ll open the area up for development and some homes that cost $1 million or more.

Wilomene Yonkof, 72, who has lived in South Amherst for 50 years, said the thought of having million-dollar homes sprouting nearby would turn her small-town world upside down.

“(South Amherst) is more of a rural area than it is a classy area,” she said. “When high-class people come here, they’ll want this or that, but we’re not a high-class town. We’re satisfied with what we have.”

On Tuesday, plenty of folks in town were willing to give their opinions about the project, but few would tie their names to them — saying there was too much small-town politics in their village. According to the 2006 census, the village had a population of 1,780.

An 81-year-old Henrietta Township man who retired from the quarries after 30 years said he looks forward to the development, but he was skeptical.

“I think it’s a good thing to do something with it instead of just having it get overgrown with trees and brush,” he said, declining to provide his name. “… But I’ll believe it when I see it.”

David Abraham, 23, lives a “stone’s throw” from the quarries on Quarry Road and enjoys the country setting of his home, but is looking forward to what the development could bring to the area.

“People don’t want change because they’re afraid of it,” he said. “I’m a country boy. It’s nice having things the way they are, but you have to accept change or it’ll pass you by the wayside."

Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.