HARRISON, Ark. – Plans for a cryptocurrency mine cause uproar in Harrison.
It’s not a traditional mine with pickaxes and diggers, but rather a building full of computer servers that run around the clock to generate digital currency like Bitcoin.
The proposed site is a grassy area surrounded by houses, leaving the neighbors in suspense.
“It’s a small town,” said Brooke Lawrence. She has lived in Harrison for 25 years. “We are in farmland where we have green grass, fresh air.”
What Lawrence also described as a quiet town, got a little louder.
“It’s fair to everyone protesting, everyone standing up for Arkansas, the Natural State, and Harrison, our hometown,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence and others are protesting the proposed cryptocurrency mine. The center would be located off Old Bellefonte Road, just two miles from Lawrence’s home.
“The simple truth is that we are building a data storage facility in an area that is heavy industry,” said project manager Brian Warner.
Residents attended a public meeting on Tuesday to ask their questions. But, things got off to a bad start.
City Hall was at capacity, leaving about 50 people stuck outside. After some back and forth between the city and locals, the mayor decided to override the capacity limits and let everyone in on the meeting.
Many people came to the stand to share their opinions. One of Lawrence’s worries is the noise caused by the fans running constantly to cool the computers. In other communities, cryptocurrency mines have disrupted neighbors with constant loud noise from the fans needed to cool massive computer servers.
“On top of this red dirt is a brick building that is the center of learning where children go to school from zero to five,” Lawrence said. “My daughter could attend this school if I allowed her to. But if this mine is here, I don’t allow my daughter to go to school 2 km away.
Warner said noise was not an issue after visiting a similar facility near Newport. Electricity was another concern raised by residents.
“I heard it would use a lot of electricity,” said resident Pam Minyard. “I just don’t think this little town can handle that.”
Warner responded to concerns about electricity, saying the company planning to build the center had already planned for additional electricity use.
City leaders were expected to vote on a conditional land use permit at Tuesday’s meeting. They filed the vote in May.