EDITORIAL: Facade and failure

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

The citizens of Greencastle have been let down by their elected officials. Borough council members were unable to come up with a compromise plan for a sidewalk policy on Oct. 4. This after hours of discussion, months of work by a sidewalk committee, and years of debate by the council itself. The council again put itself into the mode of a group of weak leaders who cannot make a decision. Anyone following this from a distance must laugh themselves silly that such a basic amenity in a small town should cause so much confusion.

Always, someone will not be happy with a plan of action, but council has again halted momentum on what should be a simple task to make Greencastle a walkable community.

The current policy reads that council 'may' require sidewalks when a street is improved. Past administration, with the blessing of council, did just that. Several years ago the residents along Williamson Avenue fussed when it affected them. Since the policy didn't read 'shall', they wanted to be the exception. Council backtracked, and has been seeking a different solution ever since.

Monday's agenda stated the purpose of one item of business was to approve a sidewalk policy recommended by the Public Facilities Committee. The room could have been packed by residents wanting one last bit of input, but it was not. They were trusting the leaders to create a policy.

President Charles Eckstine laboriously walked the seven members through each modificiation suggested by any individual. He was guiding them toward a policy that, while each person may not agree with every point, would at least favor the majority of them. Otherwise, Greencastle could have seven sidewalk standards to satisfy the seven elected representatives.

Effective government behaves in such a manner. At local, state and federal levels there has to be some give and take. That did not happen here. At the end of the day, each person voted for his personal preference, rather than what could at least be the foundation for a solid policy.

The four who voted no could have saved everyone some grief by stating at the beginning of the meeting, "This is my bottom line. If it is not my way, I am going to oppose the policy."

The entire discussion was a facade and a failure to provide leadership on an issue that does not affect just seven men living in the borough, but the other 4,000 residents.