The UW's Lake Kegonsa Research campus was the proposed location for the NBAF in Dane County; more details are available from the official university proposal.
Good news! Dane County is out of the running for that new $400 million Homeland Security bio-hazard research center.
UW-Madison officials are shaking their heads in disappointment that its 200-acre site in the town of Dunn was not a finalist for the animal-disease research facility. They had visions of landing 300 to 400 jobs involving research into the deadliest and most contagious diseases.
But good riddance. This was a perverse and craven proposal from the get-go, and Dane County is better off that the Dunn site has been cut from contention.
Why perverse? Because the town of Dunn has drawn national attention for its successful efforts to fend off suburbanization and maintain its unsettled rural character.
Town residents, as Tom Laskin reported, dig into their own pockets to buy the development rights of their neighbor's farms, to preserve that land for farming in perpetuity.
Why would anyone think it was a good idea to plunk down a Brobdingnagian research building covering 16 freakin' acres -- some 500,000 sq. ft., or about 2/3 the building mass of East Towne Mall -- smack dab in the middle of a rural township that has dedicated itself to fending off just this sort of super-sized development?
I mean sheesh. What were people thinking?
There are lots of communities in Dane County that have embraced full-bore, big-box development. Look at Verona, Fitchburg and Middleton. Hell, Sun Prairie tossed out its carefully crafted westside plan to accommodate one million square feet of big-box retail.
Why not put the deadly disease research facility right next to the SuperTarget or the monster Wal-Mart proposed for Sun Prairie? Or how about in the Fitchburg Center next to Promega? Or out in a Verona corn field abutting the Epic Systems campus? Or how about tapping that empty UW research park that's taking forever and a day to build on the far west side of Madison?
Just a guess on my part, but I think the economic and political forces aligned behind those big-buck projects don't have the slightest interest in siting the scarily named National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility next to their prized investments.
Better to dump it on little Dunn. Of course, there's nothing new about that stratagem. All that empty and unspoiled Dunn land is a magnet for proposed road projects, power lines, and elephantine developments of all sorts.
That's the perversity of the situation. If you success in preserving land from development, everybody's got a better idea of what to do with that land.
Take a bow, Dunn. You fought the right fight and won.
Opponents of the research facility will be celebrating the preservation of Dunn's rural character at Colladay Park in Dunn on Saturday, July 14, from noon to 3 pm. The park is located just off Highway 51 between Schneider/Barber roads and Colladay Point Drive.