Glades residents concerned buying land South of Lake Okeechobee could bring economic downfall

Posted at 7:37 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 04:24:45-05

If there's anybody that has faith in Belle Glade, it's Patricia Hood.

“I know this community inside and out,” she says. “I know the good bad and the ugly and I appreciate the good bad and the ugly.”

She's lived her life here and volunteers at her church and at a local food pantry, and she's seen that ugly.

“We struggle with life that other people haven't had to struggle with.”

The latest struggle looming on the horizon, the debate in Tallahassee over whether to buy the land south of Lake Okeechobee.

“It would mean an end to the Glades as we know it now,” Hood says.

Pastor Steve Nolin says the move would be a huge economic blow to the mostly rural community.

“If they purchase that land, it most likely will put 600 people out of work,” Nolin says.

He says it's not just sugar mills that will be affected.

“Fertilizer plants, tractor sales, mom and pop stores, grocery stores, every person in Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay, they would be affected.

Nolin maintains there's no concrete scientific proof that sending the water South would completely solve the algae bloom issue.

So what IS the solution?

Patricia says it starts with communication - having their voices here heard and rewarding the faith that many loyal people like her have put into this city for generations.

“My only solution is people to open their ears and consider the impact of what we're on the brink of. We don't have anywhere else to turn. We are it. We are the Glades.”