To see what’s changed — change that’s a source of pride for some and of anxiety for others — travel a few blocks north, where new homes with stone facades are replacing the low brick ones built in the 1950s and ’60s. These are the houses close to what’s left of the West Fertilizer Plant.
As the anniversary of the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion approaches, people in West are coming to terms with the fact that their rebuilt town will be different — better, in some respects — than the old one they loved so much.
The idea of benefiting from the greatest tragedy in West’s history makes some of them uneasy.
People are confronting decisions they never expected — whether this rural enclave needs a fertilizer plant nearby to serve surrounding farms, and how they should feel about so much investment coming from so much death and destruction.
“I don’t ever think you can say you are benefitting from it, but we’re rebuilding,” Mayor Tommy Muska said. “We’re going to build it back, and it might end up being better the way we build it.”