OP-ED: In search of tranquility in these trying times

Michele Luckenbaugh
Conewago Township
The Northern Extension of the Heritage Rail Trail head beginning at John C. Rudy County Park in East Manchester Township, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

One of my favorite places to walk to clear my mind is John Rudy County Park, located in East Manchester Township. 

It is a place to think, to walk and to feel that all is right with the world. At least this is the way I use to feel about my trips there, until the past several months when a development company purchased well over 100 acres on the north side of Mundis Race Road adjacent to the to construct a series of warehouses. 

Let me describe my trip to the park just the other day.

As I drive on Mundis Race Road, approaching the main entrance of the park, to my left I pass a multitude of heavy-duty equipment busy at work. Grading, digging, scraping huge mounds of earth, the sounds piercing my ears even as my car windows are up.

What used to be a vacant area was now filled with the crushing sounds of dump trucks, front-end loaders and excavators, all in a hurry to get the job done and disturbing the peacefulness and serenity of the area.

Sadness fills my heart. I drive into the main parking area of the park, hoping to escape the raucous noise. But such is not the case. As I start my walk on a trail, the ear-numbing clanging and grinding still fills the air.

What must the wildlife of the park be feeling and experiencing? Their habitat has again been invaded by humankind in the name of commerce. How many birds, rabbits, squirrels, deer, etc. have been forced out of their homes to satisfy the greed of mankind? To construct more warehouses in an area that has more than its fair share already. And these buildings stand vacant until, if and when they are leased.

I keep walking the trails to get away from the clamor and it isn't until I get to the far side of the park that the noise is somewhat lessened but still audible.

Call me idealistic, but we all have a sacred trust to protect the land from reckless destruction, so that we may have a legacy that can be handed over to our children and their children. In man's greed for more and more, we have scorched the face of Mother Earth in the name of mindless development. But at what cost? Our "green spaces" are dramatically shrinking and being replaced with immense concrete buildings.

When will this madness end?

I return home feeling that my trips to John Rudy Park will never be the same. The dump trucks, front-end loaders, etc. may eventually leave the area when their job is done, but their noises will be replaced by others, almost as harsh sounding. The singing of the birds, the swishing noises of the tree branches can hardly compete with future road traffic of the area.

And what effect will all of this have on the small community of Emigsville and its residents? I ask that we all give serious thought before we strip away any more natural areas from the face of the earth. Once lost, they are lost forever.