Local Residents Against McDonald's


Communicated to McSpotlight by a member of
The Capital Area Greenbelt Assocation
September 1996

The Capital Area Greenbelt Association, a group in Harrisburg, PA, is dedicated to maintaining and preserving a 20 mile park and recreational trail that encircles the city of Harrisburg. The Association is currently protesting the plans of McDonald's Corporation to build a new drive-in restaurant on a section of the Greenbelt.

"This is an extreme case of abuse of the public interest by the Corporation." The taking of parkland that has been in the public domain since 1915 is a horrible calamity that we are working hard to prevent. The Association plan to present their case to the company officials in Chicago either by mail or phone. Additional letters and calls to McDonalds will help out the cause.

Update on McD's fight in Harrisburg, PA
17 December 1996

I am visiting your site for the first time and it is quite impressive. As a member of the Capital Area Greenbelt Association, I was pleased to see a brief mention of our efforts to prevent development of a McDonald's on historic public parkland in our community. I also took note to the fact that October 16 was world anti-McD's day. Coincidentally, this was the day that we chose to serve McD's and the Dauphin County government (sellers of the land) with our law suit. No, they didn't ask for fries with that!

On the same day, about thirty protesters - ranging from children to senior citizens - picketed the Dauphin County Courthouse. Chants of "we want trees, not Mickey Dee's" and "keep your greasy hands off our land" were clearly audible during the county commissioner's meeting. More importantly, these slogans echo the public sentiment that has prevailed throughout this debate. McD's has stepped well over the line in enticing local politicians to sacrifice valuable public park land.

The protest and legal filing drew local print and television coverage. In early November, we leafletted the Dauphin County Republican dinner which was attended by former US Vice-president Dan Quayle. We are presently waiting for the law suit to come to trial, and conducting fundraising activities to pay legal costs.

Additional information may be requested from TPoole@aol.com



Tradeoff to save some of Greenbelt
still is no deal for future generations

Dauphin County commissioners have commendably responded to the public outcry against their plans to develop century-old, county-owned park land and vowed to correct the error of their ways.

But only partly. The commissioners, according to county Administrator Thomas E. Washic, will drop plans to lease three acres of the Capital Area Greenbelt adjoining Paxton Street to Pep Boys if opponents drop their opposition to the county's sale of 1.35 cres in the same tract to McDonald's.

Norman Lacasse, president of the Capital Area Greenbelt Association, said the commissioners offered the concession on a take-it-or-leave-it basis and told him they would press ahead with the original plan unless the group backs the revised plan.

Half a plan may be better than the whole plan, but it remains a bad, illadvised plan nonetheless. The commissioners should abandon entirely their efforts to turn county park land into commercial property.

As we noted previously in this space, there are plenty of alternative sites nearby where a McDonald's restaurant or Pep Boys auto parts store could be built and would be a plus for the area.

But while there is plenty of commercial space available along the Paxton Street corridor, the acres in question represent all the open space left in the vicinity. When it's gone, it's gone for good.

The county already has signed a sales agreement for the property with McDonald's and faces financial penalties if it backs out.

Yet it's perplexing that the restaurant chain has the slightest desire to be caught in the middle of an environmental fight. It just isn't good public relations, as surely the commissioners themselves now understand.

Even if the county is forced to pay a penalty, it would be worth it to avoid committing a long-time blunder.

The Greenbelt represents one of the most far-sighted and original projects conceived in the history of Harrisburg and Dauphin County. If anything, the commissioners should be assisting in any way they can to preserve its integrity for future generations.

The short-term financial gain from this transaction is a pittance compared to the long-term benefits of keeping the Greenbelt intact and respecting the environmental values associated with it.

We urge the commissioners to prevent this terrible mistake from occurring while they still can. Not only will stopping the destruction of Paxton Woods be welcomed by a thankful public, it will surely be viewed with gratitude by generations to come as a haven of nature in the middle of an ever-expanding metropolis.