Who are those of us who are opposed to West Park? We’ve been called “old fogies” who don’t want change. Is that us? No. So, then, who are we? Are we “seniors”? Dare you stigmatize us for being on the older side age-wise? That would be discrimination, wouldn’t it? Besides, it isn’t true.
There are some commonalities about those of us who are opposed to West Park. First, we are very serious people. We probably think a lot, especially about our community. If you check our membership list and look at what these members have done in the community in their lives, you would find a large number of us have served our communities in many ways. Those include mayors of Patterson, council members, planning commissioners and others in various appointed positions.
We are also heavy on members who belong to multiple local organizations. We not only serve on local boards, but we work hard for the groups we belong to. WS-PACE.org isn’t the only organization many of us work for.
What does this all mean? It’s pretty clear. When we see something that is wrong or a danger to Patterson and the West Side, we jump in and try to fix problems or to prevent danger.
We can use our knowledge and experience to anticipate what new residents can’t, because they didn’t see what happened in the past. Without a communal “community memory,” it’s impossible to anticipate some problems facing our area.
Those who have lived here a few years may not understand what the sounds of trains will do to downtown activities, especially in our North and South parks. Maybe you’ve never crossed the railroad tracks other than at Las Palmas Avenue. Perhaps you haven’t even traveled around the countryside and don’t understand that this is still a farming community. In fact, one of our biggest employers is farm-related.
How about the wind direction? Have you learned that the wind flows south and that if West Park is built, its pollution will travel south to Newman, Gustine, Los Banos and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley, where there is a serious air pollution problem? That tells some of us that 141,000 trips in and out of West Park by 2030 would be a disaster.
Have any West Park supporters ever had to clean up the remains of someone’s loved one who just died when a train hit a car or truck at one of our local railroad crossings? Back when I was a rookie photographer for the Irrigator in the ’70s, I showed up at the railroad tracks at Las Palmas to take a photo of a car and train wreck. I was quickly told that the scene was too gruesome to photograph.
After hearing one detail that I won’t repeat, I got back in my car and left the scene.
If it was one of your relatives that happened to, I’m sorry to bring it up. But that’s something else about Patterson. Those of us who’ve been around long enough know that we must be careful about talking about things that are painful for our fellow Patterson residents.
It’s that kind of “local memory” that shows you don’t want a whole bunch of trains running through the town. You don’t want bad air, either. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District hasn’t even considered the impact on the West Side’s air.
There are also the train whistles that could drown out speakers during our local Apricot Fiesta and other city events.
Having one time been a fire chaser, it is not hard for me to visualize a train on the tracks blocking the fire engine on its way to a house fire on the east side of the tracks. If you are a newer resident in town, maybe you can’t visualize that danger.
Do we want jobs? Yes. Mistakes in planning? No. We want jobs here, but there is no reason for the West Side to supply 10,000 or 20,000 jobs for Turlock, Ceres and Modesto.
For those who think West Park is a good idea, all WS-PACE.org asks is that you listen to some of the considerations we are evaluating before you side with this project.
Claude Delphia is a West Side native and vice president of WS-PACE.org, which opposes the proposed West Park industrial park at the Crows Landing Air Facility. The Patterson Irrigator encourages a free and open exchange of ideas and information. We reserve the right but do not assume any obligation to delete comments that do not meet our publishing standards.