I want to embrace and thank every single one of you who have joined Preserve Alpine Heritage (PAH), those who signed the Greater Alpine Fire Safe Council petition and those who just plain care about what may happen to a portion of what we know as part of Wright’s Field.
You are a very well-represented group and kudos go out to you! It is extremely difficult to have to stand up and vocalize opposition especially when your voice will likely not be fairly heard or often misconstrued. You wearily know it will be an uphill battle. Some are filled with stage fright making it impossible to actually speak at a meeting. It is exhausting to formalize your thoughts into words. It is very, very possible that you have absolutely no extra time to address one more issue that affects your life. It is easier to let things pass because of the monumental effort that it takes to be confrontational. It is easier to allow elected officials and the local government to make choices and then read about those decisions. Don’t we all really want to just feel content and secure and safe? To find contentment in our cocoons, our homes and our families and our friends? To live out our lives in the community of our choice? And sometimes, just be left alone?
One can talk oneself blue-in-the-face trying to convince and persuade a person with opposing views. One is rarely successful. Rather than become despondent and totally disappointed I have adopted a motto:
“You can’t fix stupid–especially to those who sell their souls.”
And my motto can apply to elements that surround the Park.
Adversaries at times resort to playing dirty in order to get what they want.
Because of you and your relentless push to be heard (again thank you), a special meeting was called on Tuesday, April 6 by the Alpine Community Planning Group to discuss the proposed location of the County Park. The County provided a polished presentation describing their plans. Oddly and questionably, Travis Lyon, chairman of the ACPG and a board member of Back Country Land Trust also gave a slide presentation showing various birds-eye-views of different parks throughout the County that are considered active use parks. His point was to try to convince the audience that our Park should not be considered a park filled with active sports fields. The slideshow backfired and, in fact, displayed our Park to be filled with these active fields. But more confusing and disturbing was Mr. Lyon, who chaired the meeting, displayed an overt bias towards the Park. His presentation was highly inappropriate.
PAH’s presentation was worthy of praise, remaining focused on the central issues and offering legitimate alternatives. Strong work (and a lot of work to prepare!)
Remember, this meeting was touted to all in Alpine as the time to speak up about the Park. Interestingly, out of the 20 public comments only two were positive for the park.
One was the Mountain Bike Association, a well-managed organization with one specific agenda: to lobby for as much land as possible to include mountain biking. Ms. Murphy made a point to say they partner with BCLT.
This is where it starts to get dirty, in my opinion.
The only person from Alpine supporting the park was Sharon Haven who identified herself as living in Alpine over 60 years. She is the wife of ACPG member Al Haven. Ms. Haven runs a land use strategy consulting company. It was her comments which planted the “fear” seed: quit complaining; we have waited so long for a park; what if the County ditches the entire project and puts its up for sale; we could end up with nothing; why do people have to be so resistant to this Park; the County bought a huge amount of open space and at least some of it should be used as a Park; think of the apartment dwellers; be happy with what is offered (and basically, shut up). Her intent was to plant the first seed of fear.
After all the comments had been made, ACPG members had the expected discussion period.
The very last speaker was ACPG member Richard Saldano. Referring to Sharon by name, he thanked her for reminding him that if the County backs out, developers will sweep in and grab up this “goldmine” because it is so cheap and then develop the land to their hearts’ content. We would get more houses and no Park. Boom! Got the jugular! Mission accomplished: Fear was definitely injected, even though Mr. Saldano’s projections are based on falsehoods and not facts.
Both Ms. Haven’s and Mr. Saldano’s comments were planned and orchestrated to play the fear-factor and to distract from the oppositions’ valid comments. Their bald-faced threat was: If you do not take it the way it is presented, you will lose it all.
This deceptive and manipulative charade was coordinated to achieve just that: Fear. Right, George Barnett?
But there are two big problems: we are not stupid and we are not ignorant.
So, chin up and carry on. Know there are a bunch of you who feel the same way. The fight is not over in the least. Continue to unite. Keep supporting each other and we’ll all become a stronger community together.
Norton resides in Alpine.