The WAWA gas station sits at the corner of Grand Avenue and US 1 (Coral Gables), where a historic community still lives. A school is also located across the gas station; it puts both citizens and school goers at risk considering such an establishment’s negative impacts. Gas stations pose substantial health hazards for those living nearby. Fire and explosions include some of the most dangerous issues while irritation and burns from exposure also harm people (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019). This paper considers some topical issues related to the negative impacts of the gas station and the system of community benefits.
Evaluating whether it is wrong for a community to advocate for a gas station
The community living in this area supported the project based on the benefits offered by the company. It is essential to evaluate the current situation to understand the merits and demerits of locating the gas station there. A community can advocate for a business or other establishment based on understanding the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. When community stakeholders come together, they can evaluate the gas station’s impact to understand whether it should be accepted or not. Over 160,000 gas stations in the US sell fuel to millions of motorists (Nolan, 2018). It means that many Americans are accustomed to living close to and visiting gas stations to fulfill their needs. At face value, there is nothing wrong with a community advocating for a gas station in a residential area. Because fossil fuels are dangerous, there are rules and guidelines that gas stations follow to ensure the safety of those living close by (Nolan, 2018). Gas stations are also advantageous because they often include shopping and eating areas. It could improve the area by uplifting the social life because people have a place to meet and socialize. Those living in the area can gain from close shopping and eating facilities in addition to the jobs that such businesses create.
Such establishments employ several people from the neighborhood to offer different services. However, it is essential to evaluate the pros and cons of having a gas station close to the community. The WAWA gas station is close to a living community and school (Insider, 2020). It could pose a variety of threats because of the dangers of fuel. The most prevalent risks associated with a gas station include fires and explosions (Ma & Li, 2019). Gas is highly combustible; any small spark of fire is likely to cause a large fire or explosion. Such hazards are exacerbated by the fact that many people who visit gas stations fail to obey rules related to smoking and leaving engines running. Whether inside the vehicle or outside, lighting and smoking cigarettes poses a significant risk (Ma & Li, 2019). A spark from a cigarette or a lighter can cause a serious explosion (Bahadori, 2015). Despite warnings, millions of people fail to obey the rules leaving communities living close by at risk. Therefore, people living close to the WAWA gas station face significant risks because of the possibility of explosions at the gas station. Gas stations also instruct motorists to watch for fuel overflow because it causes a safety risk (Nolan, 2018). Overflow can cause a fire if there is a spark. Gasoline is also a skin irritant; it can cause mild irritation or even serious burns.
The community living close to WAWA should also worry about their children. Children living in the neighborhood can wander off playing and get to the gas station. Learners from the nearby school can also visit the gas station, especially if there is a shopping area and restaurant. Imminent dangers from exposure to gasoline can cause problems for children (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019). Living in such an area also presents a health hazard because gasoline pollutes the area with airborne particles when fuel evaporates (Cao & Hu, 2016). The community living in the area is continuously exposed to contaminated air which could lead to health problems. When it rains, spilled gasoline can also contaminate the area when it is carried away by water. Such processes contaminate the soil creating a problem for nearby plant life (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019). It is also vital to consider that a gas station can increase motorist traffic in an area. It means that more vehicles will visit the area to fuel, which increases the carbon emissions in the area from vehicle exhaust systems (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019). Air pollution could systemically affect the health of residents in this community (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019).
Given the above hazards connected to gas stations, it is important to critically consider any gas station proposal by weighing the good versus the bad. The people living near the WAWA gas station seemed to consider only the benefits. The owners of the gas station offered benefits, including scholarships and jobs at the gas station. Since the community would directly benefit from such an offer, the residents approved the project. It is not wrong to advocate for a gas station as long as the community considers the negative impacts of such a business in the area. In the case of the WAWA gas station, the community failed to critically consider these factors because of the perceived benefits.
Thoughts about the current system of community benefits
The gas station owner offered scholarships and jobs at the location as the community benefits for people living in the area. It is a system of benefits likely to benefit several individuals within the area, but such a system ignores the larger community’s needs (Ma & Li, 2019). In short, the current system of benefits is limited or insufficient to meet the needs of the community. Scholarships are likely to benefit several students from the community. It is a positive act, but the scholarships can only go to young people meaning that the older generations are ignored. Similarly, jobs at the gas station are also likely to go to young people, again indicating that older generations are ignored in this system of benefits.
Therefore, it shows that there is a current system of community benefits ignoring the needs of the older generations who are likely to bear the greater percentage of the hazards. Normally, older generations such as parents and grandparents live at home while the younger ones are off to work and school. It means that the older generations staying at home in the area are likely to be affected more by the health hazards and not the younger generation getting the benefits (Ma & Li, 2019). Therefore, the system of benefits introduced by the company should have crucially considered these factors. The system should have offered more benefits to older generations because they are more likely to be affected (Ma & Li, 2019). This is true because they are the ones who spend more time at home while younger generations are away for work and education pursuits.
The current system of benefits is flawed; the company should have provided other types of benefits commensurate to the hazards of having a gas station in the area. In the above sections, the hazards of gas stations are explained, and these mostly include health-related issues. Therefore, it follows that the system of benefits introduced should include some health-related benefits. Gas stations cause air pollution, water pollution, and spilled gas can cause irritation and burns (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019). The risk of fire and explosions is also very high in the area. To cater to the related health issues, a proper benefit plan could have included a fund to help locals who encounter health problems such as cancer and other pollution-related diseases (Al-Delaimy et al, 2019). The company could have also proposed the development of a fire station nearby to counter the risk of fire (Bahadori, 2015). Such thoughtful benefits are likely to benefit the community better because they are commensurate to the risks of the establishment.
Whether benefits should be measured in terms of their long term local and regional impact or only on the short term benefit of property owners and land developers
In this project, the stakeholders failed to properly consider the benefits resulting in a case where the community got less than it should. The community, leaders, businesses in the area, and authorities are all stakeholders with an interest in this project. In fact, the leadership in the area has frustrated residents based on the interaction with the Coral Gables city commissioners. A group of 43 parents and residents raised issues about the gas station, but they were met with indifference. Elected leaders pushed the project without ensuring the required public participation. Expediting the review and approval process denied stakeholders the chance to consider the pertinent issues in this development (Faber, 2020). Without the platform to speak and present issues, the stakeholders couldn’t contribute to the development of the benefits plan.
A benefits plan needs to properly consider the weighty issues such as health hazards and risks to establish the allocation of benefits. When a gas station is developed, it is a long-term project because the establishment will remain in the area indefinitely (Nolan, 2018). It means that its health and safety risks will remain with the community indefinitely. Therefore, one issue is clear; the benefits should be measured in the long-term. The community will live with the negative impacts of the project in the long-term; it is also vital to measure benefits in the long term. Short-term benefits to land owners and developers should not be considered important in this project (Miller, 2020). Benefitting several individuals isn’t likely to introduce positive impacts for the community in the long-term. It is also vital to consider whether the long-term benefits should be regional or local.
A gas station is a relatively small establishment that is not likely to affect an entire region. This gas station is located at Grand Avenue and US 1 (Coral Gables); it is likely to influence only its close neighborhood and not an entire region such as the entire City of Coral Gables. Given this view, it is logical to note that its benefits plan should be localized. Therefore, the benefits should be measured in terms of the long-term local impacts because it doesn’t impact an entire region. Further, it is also important to point out that a gas station might lack the resources to implement benefits for an entire region, given that it is just a small business.
Regardless of the challenges experienced in the area, there is evidence that the community is taking action to correct past mistakes. A recent example of action is the group of 43 parents who visited the Coral Gables city commissioner about the issues in the area. Even though they were met with indifference by elected leaders, persistence is likely to produce positive results. There is also an online petition that has raised over 1,150 signatures; it is a start that could ignite other people and stakeholders to act. The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation also came out to note that the gas station threatens the historic assets in the area. From such interactions, there is evidence that people are taking action, and such approaches are likely to bear fruit in the long-term. Given the nature of the project and the limited benefits, action is needed to ensure that more benefits are introduced to benefit the locals substantially.
The WAWA gas station is located at Grand Avenue and US 1 (Coral Gables), an area with a living community and a school. The completion of this gas station project gas raised pertinent issues because of the benefits and outcomes. The issues are evaluated in this paper, and it emerges that it isn’t wrong to support a gas station. However, there is need for critical consideration of the good versus the bad. In the assessment of the current system of benefits, it emerges that the plan is flawed and insufficient. The consideration of the measurement of benefits reveals that it should consider the long-term local impact of the project.