By Trudy Wischemann
“Do you have to fight about everything?” a friend asked in an unfriendly voice. We were talking about Lindsay’s proposed roundabout at Hermosa and Westwood, adjacent to Jefferson School and half a block from the entrances to the Olive Tree Plaza. “I wish I didn’t,” is what I wish I had answered her.
I’ve got a thing against fighting. Most of us do. I got mine from my small-town mother, who abhors fighting in general and understands the underside of the silent class wars that go on in small towns. Better to go along and be friendly or at least not noticed, because standing out can make you an outsider fast.
But a small handful of Lindsay residents, most of them lifetime members, got up the gumption to gather signatures on a petition against this project. They gathered over 800 names in four days, 300 more people than voted in the last election. They overcame their fears about fighting city hall, motivated by concerns about the negative impacts of this project. I think more of us need to join them.
At the next City Council meeting, Jan. 23rd (which begins at 6 p.m.), the staff will address some of the questions raised at the public hearing on Jan. 9th as well as some raised at the public information meeting Jan. 4th. The Council then will decide whether to approve the environmental document prepared by the city planning department, a requirement of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act.) This is the only point where citizen input has to be considered. After that, the Council is free to approve the plan regardless what the public thinks or feels about it.
There are genuine defects in the environmental document. With the aid of experts in the fields of traffic engineering and design, the San Joaquin Valley Environmental Defense Center will address technical flaws in the report. What is really absent, however, is public participation and a public vision of the town’s future.
There’s a song by the Milk Carton Kids called “The Ash and Clay” which pertains to our situation. I first heard it at the end of a movie about a rural community that nearly fell prey to a corporation seeking to drill natural gas wells through their aquifer, potentially contaminating their only source of water. Many in the community wanted the leases as a way to survive financially in an area whose economic base was waning. A few fighters struggled against both the corporation and the general community’s fears of repercussions, and I thought the film represented well the struggle of public resources and community well-being. Some lines from the song, however, capture this moment perfectly:
“I know we want what’s best for us – I know it has to come at a price; I also know the trouble that you find when you stop being nice. You look around you one day; what you once knew didn’t stay…. Come on home before the girls are grown, come on home to fight.”
Come be part of the solution Tuesday night, Lindsay City Council chambers, 6 p.m.
Trudy Wischemann is a small-town researcher who always has a song in her head. You can send her your thoughts about our roundabouts 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.