New Town Council keeping promises
Well, that didn’t take long.
The newly elected Town Council tackled its first full agenda Monday, and – surprise! – controversy over Fort Getty has erupted.
It was during the unfinished business portion of the meeting – where else does discussion on the RV park belong? – where Councilor Mary Meagher brought a detailed proposal to the table. The plan was succinct: reduce the number of campsites, increase the cost of rent.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who followed the election closely – or even from a distance. The Democrats who were ultimately elected weren’t vague with their plans for Fort Getty, especially Councilwoman Meagher. In her 500-word essay to the Jamestown Press the week before the general election, she said she wanted to “reduce the 105 RV sites by one-third.” She also suggested the town raise rates to make them comparable to Middletown’s Sachuest Beach campground. Meagher has stood by her plan since she first tossed her hat in the ring. Now, after securing a spot on the dais, we can’t fault her for keeping her word, can we?
During Monday’s meeting, the new Town Council took heat for rushing into things. Oddly enough, the previous council was criticized for doing the exact opposite: sitting on the fence – too many workshops, consultants and charrettes.
Residents opposed to Meagher’s plan want her to wait. They want to know what the rush is. But the fact of the matter is, the same people against Meagher’s plan today won’t be thrilled with her plan in six to eight months. It’s delaying the inevitable. You ask why rush? Well why wait?
Meagher’s plan is essentially the same that former Town Council President Mike Schnack proposed in August. Schnack wanted to remove some sites from the north end of the park, while Meagher prefers to start on the eastern side. Schnack’s idea was passed. But when 80 percent of the councilors were turned into lame ducks following September’s Democratic primary, Schnack told the town to hold off on his recommendations. He knew the incoming council would have its own ideas concerning the park. He was right. Now, the wait is over. Anyone surprised or caught off guard should have been paying closer attention.
Monday there will be a special meeting on Fort Getty. Since there are different players involved – five new councilors – it’s appropriate that taxpayers address the council. We commend Councilman Blake Dickinson for spearheading the idea. But hopefully it’s not the first of many. Safe money is that the arguments being made will be from the same residents that have been making those same arguments for years.
No decision will ever be made if we wait for the full consensus. Hopefully the councilors stick to their guns and make a decision, just like they did with their promise that they would change how Town Council meetings are run. That’s what they were elected to do. Their plan was never a secret.
— Tim Riel