The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Western Tribune column August 26, 2009 NS Hub meeting

My column from this weeks Western Tribune.

I learned a good bit at the Norfolk Southern informational meeting last week, even though the format was not what many of the McCalla residents who came expected. I believe they expected a “town hall” style meeting where they could have used a more accusatory and confrontational approach, since they were not interested in finding common ground.

“They don’t want to hear what we’ve got to say. They know we are right and they are wrong.”

It sounded similar to the discourse at some of the town hall meetings dealing with health care.
When people are seeking a solution to a problem, whether it’s health care or land use and quality of life concerns, both sides should come with a calm approach to dialogue. If one or both sides are unwilling to do so, a satisfactory outcome will never be reached.

Norfolk Southern offered the most elaborate community information event in their history to inform us about the proposed intermodal hub and what its effects might be. In addition, information about their facility in Austell, GA, built a decade ago, was available.

In Austell, similar concerns were voiced before the facility was built but the mayor of the town realized that it was better to talk to company officials than to try to fight the railroad giant. Some compromises were worked out, and in the years since the facility was completed, the resident’s fears have not been realized and no complaints have been heard, according to the mayor.

One of the disadvantages of being unincorporated is that there is no official community leader such as a mayor to deal with such issues. There seems to be some distrust with the county commissioner (around this as well as other issues). The Jefferson County School Board may be the best agency to deal with the situation, and they have approved a resolution to do a study of traffic, environmental and other issues related to the project. Norfolk Southern has done those types of studies, but an independent study might reinforce their claims on a number of issues.

In Austell, the city received some money but again, McCalla is not a city, so it’s hard to anticipate what kinds of deals might be reached. Community ball fields, improvements to the school, firefighting equipment; those are just some of the things we might see if McCalla residents are willing to negotiate rather than argue.


Watch this Norfolk Southern intermodal climb a hill. Actually, its in someone's basement, but this is a long train for a model, and how he keeps it from derailing I don't know. And the music is good.

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