Notes from Home: Unite and Conquer
By Trudy Wischemann
It’s been a sad week in Lake Woebehere, my adopted home town. Last Tuesday, Feb. 27th, the City Council voted 3:2 to demolish the historic public resource known as the Lindsay City Golf Course and build 5 soccer fields on the property instead. We’ll be seeing bulldozers there very shortly.
At the Council meeting there were 20 or 30-some little soccer players shepherded there by a few mothers and their coach, Mr. Faustino Perez. The three women who spoke on behalf of the soccer players are employees of the City, and they spoke confidently of the need for greater access to playing fields for this burgeoning youth activity. Mr. Perez followed their comments with a description of the hardships these youth were experiencing for lack of places to play.
Four adults representing Lindsay’s youth baseball teams were also there, because the money for “repurposing” of the golf course is coming from a grant recently acquired to upgrade the Olive Bowl (our historic baseball facility) and Kaku Park, an adjoining triangle of ground with facilities for children in an area where there is very little for children to do. These coaches were not as prepared to defend against the “repurposing” of the money granted to support their efforts; their day jobs don’t give them direct access to the powers that be.
There were some silent majority types sitting in the audience, too, adults from the boomer generation for whom the destruction of the golf course feels like destruction of their personal history, not to mention golfing future. “I feel like crying,” one woman said to me after the meeting, though she did not address the council when it came time to speak. When the bulldozers arrive, I imagine a lot of us will feel like crying.
With the little soccer players standing there behind the podium, it was hard to question the rightness of Bill Zigler’s decision to propose this change, promoting one sport (soccer) to the detriment of two (baseball and golf.) Councilman Velasquez did, however, providing multiple reasons why destruction of the golf course should be reconsidered, and lodged one of the two No votes. Mayor Kimball also expressed regret about the loss of this public resource and concern about the hastiness of the decision, casting the second No. Councilman Salinas argued that at least it will remain open space rather than being developed with housing, while Councilman Watkins expressed hope for the resurrection of active use of this public land (he golfs in Exeter.) Councilwoman Cortes was adamant about the importance of supporting soccer in this community.
I agree with all of them, but I question whether this decision is fiscally responsible. The City owns a facility with two indoor soccer fields, which were built entirely with public funds that were garnered on behalf of serving the underserved. Building new soccer fields which will compete with our indoor facility, while continuing to neglect the baseball park (long overdue for maintenance) and demolishing one of the last remaining public golf courses in Tulare County, seems like just another bad decision in a long stream of bad planning.
But to challenge this decision, it will take the residents coming together to support all the recreational needs of the community. It will require us to take back our voice as the represented public, and tell them what we really need: a city government responsive to its citizens, not the bulldozers.
Trudy Wischemann is a bulldozer-averse rural advocate who writes. You can send her your uniting 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.