Notes from Home: The Hope of Action
By Trudy Wischemann
“How many names will it take to stop this thing?” a woman asked me after last week’s Lindsay City Council meeting.
She was referring to the proposed roundabout at Hermosa and Westwood and the signature-gathering effort she’d participated in a few weeks before, heroic by this community’s standards. I don’t remember my answer, although I’m sure it wasn’t encouraging, clouded by my experiences here.
Yet, before they’d gathered those 800+ names, there was no hope of stopping this thing. Before individuals started asking questions about the safety of school children crossing there, the potential increase in traffic congestion, the high cost and possibly better (and cheaper) solutions, there was no hope.
When she asked that important question, we were standing in the dark in front of city hall, the meeting still going on. The agenda item to approve the roundabout’s environmental document (called “Initial Study/ Mitigated Negative Declaration,”) had been put off for the second time, this time without explanation. Perhaps it was because two of the five council members were absent. Perhaps they expected challenges from outside experts called to testify by the San Joaquin Valley Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit in which I participate. Perhaps they expected a large turnout of community people and wanted to discourage the effort. Or perhaps they actually knew the document wasn’t ready and wanted to give staff more time to improve it. Who knows?
What I know is that those 800+ names gathered in the first four days of 2018, when most people were just recovering from the holidays, are what kept the Council from approving the roundabout on Jan. 9, and again on Jan. 23. Those community members’ questions, requiring answers in the document, have delayed the normal rubber stamp approval of yet another one of Lindsay’s Follies. And the persistence of community voices wanting to be part of the solution is the only thing that’s going keep yet another community design disaster from happening.
Last week’s Sun-Gazette carried a fiery editorial about Lindsay’s bad attitude toward repaying TCAG for misused Measure R funds. It made a very important point that should be remembered now, as the City once again contemplates spending public funds they consider “free” (meaning they come from some coffers other than the city’s tax base.) That point is that these “free” funds are still taxpayer dollars. We all have contributed, one way or another. They’re our monies, and in our behalf, conditions have been placed on their use to ensure they go toward real public improvements, not boondoggles.
The City of Lindsay has not demonstrated an awareness of that fact, much less respect for it. When one resident questioned the high price tag of this roundabout, the city’s response was, essentially, “it’s not our money, don’t worry about that.” We do worry. We’re offended by extravagant, wasteful projects in our town (which unfortunately we have in abundance) while we jounce uncomfortably down our un-mended streets. And it is our money.
So, friends, look at what we’ve done so far with our actions, large and small. There is hope of solving some of the traffic issues at that intersection if we don’t let up. We must require the City of Lindsay to respond to the concerns and voices of its residents, now and in the future. That’s where hope lives.
Trudy Wischemann is a writer who sees the glass both half-full and half-empty. You can send her your thoughts c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.