Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2003
Representative Forbes waltzes into town and city officials gather to gush over a check written by our tax-and-spend federal government to help fund an absolutely necessary bike path. Half a million dollars will go to help create a path for bikers all the way to the ocean. I imagine thousands of dress right or left males are holding their breath, biting their nails, eagerly awaiting the ribbon cutting, loosening them to pedal their bony butts and helmeted heads toward freedom. It can’t be the ocean salt air they crave; they can find that at Mr. Brady’s Marina just off Godwin. It can’t be the test of stamina they seek; they can measure that by doing laps around the Wal-Mart parking lot. So why all the excitement; what makes this so important when we could use those dollars for a hundred other needed items?
Is this, finally, a step toward relieving congestion on our highways? Is this the future for travel? No, if I worked at the oceanfront, at 10 miles per hour I’d make it to work by 10:30 a.m. and be home for supper by midnight. If Norfolk was the goal and there was a bridge lift, it would be party time with young folks sharing drinks instead of horn blowing by exasperated motorists. The idea does have potential. Perhaps the trail can be upgraded to include electric golf carts or motorcycles, of course limiting the speed. If held to the lowest velocipede the trivial amount of traffic on that path would require no need for a passing lane, but someone could make a few bucks by supplying portable johns. There would have to be signs the entire way making it at least a misdemeanor for going behind a tree. And how about drinks and sandwiches, maybe even a pub some-where along the line. I can see the Police Department already planning methods to patrol its length, to prevent holdups, assaults, rape, etc., and assist in breakdowns.
I know Mr. Forbes and city officials get palpitations when our tax dollars come back to us in any form but maybe our schools could better use the money. How many computers would half a million buy? How about giving our DOT a little bus to run around town instead of a big automobile. Large enough to hold all those passengers that want to tour our many exciting historic sites. For instance this one: described in the new brochure as K252 Siege of Suffolk. Route 460, .5 mile west of the old city limits. Our town was occupied by Union troops from May 1862 until the end of the Civil War. Confederate forces under Lieutenant General James Longstreet unsuccessfully besieged Suffolk from April 11 to May 3, 1863 when they withdrew across the James River on General Robert E. Lee’s orders. It’s exciting but I couldn’t find the spot. The DOT brochure contains many more historical locations that require extensive use of your imagination.
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The city faces two big tests, probably before this column appears, and it will be interesting to see who wins the two battles, citizens versus developers, and the other, citizens versus citizen.
One, a developer, wants to sneak in an extra 33 homes to help him pay for amenities, and sneak a few million-dollar homes closer to the &uot;environmentally sensitive&uot; river. None of his homes will sell for less than $300,000 so nearby neighborhoods are rightfully concerned about their assessments skyrocketing. Two questions: who in the world are these potential customers, and will the city guarantee the neighbors have nothing to fear but fear itself?
The other battle is one woman against a neighborhood that prefers not to listen to the dogs in her proposed kennel, or smell the results of an animal that cares not where it drops it’s doodoo or who steps in it (dumber than a cat).
I’ve said it before and it is worth repeating, Suffolk laws protect dogs from people but not people from dogs. I don’t care what that lady says, the dogs will stink and they will bark. She says she will keep it clean, and has a gizmo that will stop the noise. Baloney. If it were that simple, Suffolk laws would be put in force to keep animals off the streets, and all dog owners forced to eliminate the noise. I suggested, a long time ago, a simple operation on the doggies’ bowwow section would do the trick and be required in order to get a city license. Put a little whistle in there to scare away the burglars. I can hear dog owners yowling at me.
Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.