Rerouting the bodies is a sensible plan

The odor, it turns out, was too much. So, the proposed Mesa State College body farm will be moved.

Oh, it wasn’t the smell of bodies that were to eventually be placed at the college’s planned forensic anthropological research center that was the immediate issue. Nobody in this area can say with certainty how much of a problem the odor from decomposing bodies at the facility will be.

No, it was the whiff of growing public opposition to the proposed body farm near 29 Road and Riverside Parkway that proved to be too much for Mesa State President Tim Foster.

Faced with that strong neighborhood opposition and the possibility it could endanger the well-respected standing the college has among the vast majority of residents of this community, Foster announced Thursday he was killing the project at the 29 Road location. Instead, he said the college will work with other entitites to seek a different location for the body farm that is far removed from any residential area.

That’s certainly sensible in light of the hostility toward the college that the project generated among residents of the area near the 29 Road site, and even among some people who live nowhere near that neighborhood.

However, we hope the change to a new location doesn’t derail the project for long.

We continue to believe the propsal — whether you call it a body farm or a forensic anthropological research center or something else — is a worthwhile endeavor.

First, it will enhance the reputation and expand the curriculum of what is already a good criminal justice program at Mesa State. It will allow people to study locally in one aspect of criminal justice that can’t be undertaken anywhere in Colorado now. The closest facility is in Texas.

Already, in the few weeks since news of the body farm became public, Mesa State has received communications from people outside of this area who said they hope for the opportunity to be involved with the project.

A body farm in the desert of Mesa County also would be a boon to the science of forensic anthropology. While there are other such facilities in the United States, they are all in humid climates. The project in Mesa County would offer criminal investigators and scientists the ability to examine how human bodies decompose in a very dry climate. Such a facility likely will attract students and experts from around the West.

But all of the benefits of the facility would mean little if the body farm made a large number of residents antagonistic toward or distrustful of Mesa State College. Dropping the plan for the 29 Road location and rerouting the bodies to a new permanent site far from homes and other buildings is the right thing to do.


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