FVTC outdoor forensic lab concerns neighbors

FOX VALLEY – Some voters say they wish they could take back their support of an April 2012 referendum for Fox Valley Technical College.

They say they weren’t told an outdoor lab using animal carcasses and human bodies was a part of the school’s plans. However, campus officials say they’ve been transparent.

Neighbors of FVTC’s new public safety training center shared their concerns with school officials Thursday afternoon.

“You want to buy my house?” Matteo Sollena asked campus officials. “I’ll sell my house because my house is going to lose value because of this.”

The issue is what Fox Valley officials call an outdoor forensic lab. Researchers would use it to study the decomposition of bodies.

“If you bury a pig or a you bury a human, how long does it take in this climate for that body to turn to a skeleton,” said Patricia Robinson, the executive dean of public safety for FVTC.

School officials say they’d have a maximum of three experiments at one time.

There are only a handful of these types of facilities in the country. FVTC says this one would be unique because of the cold weather.

The site is next to the Outagamie County Airport.

“I just don’t understand how it can be built 167 yards from my home,” said Pam Mueller.

Neighbors are worried about the lab creating odors, dropping property values, and attracting wildlife, particularly birds.

“Obviously it’s a pretty dangerous situation when we have wildlife coming into the area with planes flying in and out,” said Mueller.

One term people have been using to describe the plan is ‘body farm.’ However Fox Valley Tech officials say that’s misleading.

“I think when you say body farm people envision some kind of horror film image and that’s not at all what we’re about,” said Robinson.

School officials say the lab is years away from being a reality. Neighbors say they wish they had more warning.

“I attended all these early meetings and they called it an outdoor forensic lab, not having any clue what that meant,” said Mueller.

“Despite the perceptions, we have been open about this since the beginning,” said Robinson.

Fox Valley Tech administrators say they’ve talked with Federal Aviation safety officials about the lab.

Neighbors say they plan to contact airlines hoping to persuade them to oppose the plan.

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