County board member gives inside story

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. Martin Luther King.

    As the days warm and baseball bats begin to herald spring my mind once again returns to preserving the Cambridge Park. I walked into the Nov. 2007 county board meeting knowing that an agreement had been reached (unanimously) by the Village of Cambridge and the County Administration Committee (unanimously) to preserve the park. The full board almost always follows the committee lead.

    However, that night it was not to be! Some of the issues board members raised included:

    1) The original agreement had to be honored and unchanged—too late for that because it had been changed already. Cash was presented to the county rather than the transfer of land originally spelled out.

    2) Safety on Cambridge streets—the county board suddenly had several safety “experts” who felt that the compromise endangered citizens. I find it hard to believe that the Cambridge village board and the County Administration committee would accept (unanimously) a compromise that would endanger drivers and pedestrians on Center Street. I don’t think either group would be more apt to do that than the Orion board would vote to create a dangerous area on 14th Avenue in Orion or the Alpha village board would create a dangerous spot on South Yates Street in Alpha.

    Unfortunately for the citizens of Henry County, these arguments seemed to hide from view the power struggle some were engaged in. In one open meeting (Oct. executive committee) it was stated by one board member that he felt that Cambridge was trying “to jerk us around.” I have heard others state that “we” can do with “our land” whatever we please. Others continue to be unhappy because Cambridge chose to put more of the Village in a TIF District. And still others suggested that since they did not represent District II the dispute would never cost them their board seat.

    Oh my—I just wish everyone would rise above all of this and look at the future and what we leave for the next generations. To pave more land (especially in an already established park) just means less water in our deep aquifers. If we continue as we do today, we will lose something we take for granted. It will happen. The only question is when. I do not think there are many employees or visitors to the Courthouse who would not walk a hundred steps further to ensure a health water supply for their grandchildren!

    Fortunately, in our system voters have the final evaluation of how county board members use the land which the citizens own. Although the vote might be too late to save the Cambridge Park, perhaps, the decision the voters make will resonate through the coming years—and thus the County Board will more wisely use the  people’s assets. Future generations deserve nothing less.

Jim King

Henry County Board

Member, District 2