Garyville residents choose to share backyard with Marathon
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2006
By CALEB FREY
When Marathon approached citizens adjacent to their Garyville plant for a possible buyout of their property two years ago, many opted to accept the refinery’s proposal, and some like Maryann Steine would just rather stay where they’re comfortable, even if the backdrop is a million gallons of petroleum.
Maryanne and her sister Janice are a couple of the remaining few who decided not to sell their property when Marathon offered to buy them out. Among the few houses that remain amongst many slabs where structures used to stand lies Steine’s house at 119 W. 24th St., located right off River Road sandwiched between Marathon’s refinery on one side, and the Cargill Sugar Refinery on the other.
“I’ve lived here as long as I can remember,” Maryann said. “They offered to buy our house, but we said no, we didn’t want to go anywhere.”
Many of her neighbors opted for the buyout package offered by Marathon, many using the money to move to much nicer neighborhoods according to the refinery’s Human Resources Manager Bruce Rhodea.
“We had the property appraised as if it were not located in an industrial area so they would get the maximum value for their home,” Rhodea said. “We then included a 30 percent bonus on top of the appraisal price. I think the offer was considered generous where both parties were concerned.”
While the majority of the residents located on West 23rd and 24th streets who were sandwiched between the refineries felt it wise to relocate, the question is raised of what happens to the people who chose to stay behind?
Rhodea said Marathon’s goal as far as community involvement is to be a good corporate citizen by giving something back to not only those residents adjacent to the refinery, but also the community as a whole.
On November 16, Rhodea said Marathon will be presenting East St. John Elementary with a check for $15,000, and are also involved in programs at Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet School. Another $15,000 was put into the new gazebo at Ezekiel Jackson Park where Marathon tries to implement a new addition to the park each year.
Ezekiel Jackson Park will also play host to one of Marathon’s good neighbor events as they serve Jambalaya and have games for public Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The good neighbor policy isn’t all fun and games, Rhodea said, it’s also about keeping the area safe from unnecessary pollutants.
“If neighbors have a problem or concern about something in the air, we send an air monitoring unit immediately to respond,” Rhodea said.
Marathon has no plans to use the area purchased for expansion, according to Rhodea, and the buyout was a way for Marathon to get some of their neighbors out of a less than desirable situation.
“It’s what our good neighbor policy is all about,” Rhodea said.