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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meetings from Hell...

Is somebody putting something in the coffee?  Is it terminal loopiness after a summer of excessive sun and insufficient rain?  It's just one crazy meeting after another.  Maybe it's just the universe's way of suggesting that meetings, democracy-style, just aren't the way to get anything done.  It's certainly not a good sign of our ability to live together in any kind of cooperative manner.

Back in the spring, I think, folks from the County Council came up and advised us that we need to learn to work together.  Fortunately, they were not at the meeting of the Community Advisory Committee last night to see how well that advice worked.

The meeting started off well with a quorum of 3 members present, an 'audience' of about a dozen, and a sizable agenda.  Only then did it go wrong.  

The first item was public parking at Maple Beach.  Here we have a public beach with no public parking.  Roosevelt, which would be a sensible place for parking is controlled by the Border Commission, including Canada and the U.S., and for all practical purposes by Homeland Security.  They, you will not be surprised to hear, want nothing on that land including no cars.  The County doesn't want any parking on Bayview (the main, waterfront street), and the local homeowners aren't crazy about your parking on their lawns which grow right up to the fairly narrow streets.  So not crazy about it that many put stuff--driftwood, big rocks, signs-- in that area to keep you from parking on their lawns, leaving outlanders feeling like they're probably not supposed to be parking there, anyway.

But here's the kicker and the Chinese puzzle aspect: it is perfectly legal to park on their lawns because the County has an easement for parking.  Which means that those rocks and signs and driftwood piles are illegal.  But the County chooses not to enforce that illegality, leaving the place looking like it would be the parkers that are engaged in illegality.  Although, the Sheriff's deputies will not ticket you if you DO park on those lawn edges because there is an easement for parking.  Got it?  

So, the 'solution' (which is not much of a solution) is to counsel people in cars to park wherever,however you might do that.  Which does not necessarily please the people in Maple Beach who are of the opinion that there is no need of a solution because there is no problem.

I don't think this is likely to be a place where minds can come together on some compromise or anything.  It's either a problem without a solution or a solution without a problem.  Where's the common ground there?  Nonetheless, voices were somewhat heated.

I was at this meeting because I wanted to offer to the Committee the possibility of its using some of its gas tax moneys/monies for a pocket park in front of the new library.  The gas tax money, which increases every month and in the near future will hit a million dollars, can be used for only very limited purposes having to do with road improvements, roadway beautification, roadway signage, like that.  There had been for some time consideration of a small park at the end of Gulf Rd, but that was proving difficult because of the specific property owners's concerns.  It had occurred to me that if they moved that little imagined park up to the new library frontage, it would be a perfect place to have a pocket park with some overhead protection and seating and 24 hour a day wifi availability, which the library provides.

So I was on the agenda to present this idea, which had occurred to me only three days ago.  Nevertheless, before I got to present my idea, the Committee's representative from the Voters' Association, got up and read a manifesto from the Board of Directors of the Voters' Association.  This manifesto had been determined at a closed meeting of the Board held, apparently, hours earlier as it was dated October 9.  The manifesto opposed my proposal, along with a bunch of other things they felt a sincere need to oppose.  With regard to the pocket park which was the subject of my  proposal, they stated that their opposition was based upon their belief that "until there is an actual need that would truly benefit the community we should not fund this project."

Needless to say, it's hard to imagine what "actual need" would satisfy them.  I'm impressed, I guess, with their efficiency in opposing things that haven't even been officially proposed.  It suggests an amazing commitment to opposing things, at least.  Which would, of course, be in line with much of what voting is about in some segments of the population nowadays.

But, when there was some questioning of the relevance of opposing things that hadn't yet been proposed, as well as some other technical problems involving terms of office for the Committee, the aforementioned Representative from the voters stormed out and, with his back at the door, announced that he had not come there to have the Chairperson argue with him.  I think his future in politics is limited.  But what do I know?

Anyway, if you belong to the Voters' Association and you think a pocket park at the library might be a nice thing, you might mention it to the Board of Directors members.  Unfortunately, I can't give you a link to their website because they don't seem to have one; and I can't give you an email address because their material in the most recent APB doesn't include any email contact, at least not that I could find.  So you may have to wait until you run into them, whoever they may be other than Elizabeth Lanz (she signed the manifesto of opposition) and Dwayne Hunt (he presented it).  I imagine there are more than two of them, but who knows?

Not clear that anybody left on the floor at the Community Advisory Committee Meeting had any ideas about anything by the end of it all.

Nevertheless!  The Community Advisory Committee will meet again next month on November 13th at 7 p.m.  It might be the best entertainment on the Point that week.  On the other hand, we have the Fire Commissioners performing again tonight, 7 pm, at the Firehall on Benson.  It's a horse race, as they say about politics.

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