Woog's World: What does Westport really want? A question that can't be answered
Updated 6:11 am, Monday, October 20, 2014
Americans hate Congress. But they love their own individual congressman.
That's a paradox well known to political pundits. It's why the House and Senate are even less popular than cockroaches, root canals and colonoscopies. (On the plus side, more people like Congress than the Ebola virus, meth labs and gonorrhea. Believe me, it's true. I am not clever enough to make this up.)
But lest you sit there chuckling at all the knuckleheaded Americans in other parts of the country who continue to elect convicted criminals, climate change deniers and Ted Cruz, chew on this: Westport is not that different.
Sure, we vote for normal human beings, who run against other normal people. But when it comes to certain town issues, we are not exactly certain what we want.
We want downtown to be special, unique. A homey, howdy-neighbor type of place filled with mom-and-pop shops. A lively, thriving destination that also attracts plenty of folks from throughout Fairfield County.
But we don't really want to enact tax or zoning proposals that would encourage local businesses to open here. We happily shop at the chain stores that have taken over Main Street. And when it comes to opening up part of downtown for a pedestrian mall, encouraging walking and mingling while moving parking to lesser-used lots a little further away -- fuggeddaboutit!
We wanted to keep our Y downtown, except for those of us who didn't. Now that it's gone, we want to keep its neighbor, the Kemper Gunn House, downtown, except for the parking spaces it will replace. The answer to that is to add another level of parking to the Baldwin lot, except that we don't want to do that because it would ruin the beauty of, um, the parking lot.
We love our trees. They provide shade, beauty and serenity. They bloom in spring, grow verdant in summer and turn colorful in fall.
They also get in the way. They take down power lines and fall on our homes during windstorms, hurricanes and blizzards. They make it difficult to build new homes when we tear down old ones, so we clear-cut them from one end of the property line to the other.
We like charming old homes, unless we don't. They give character to our town. They remind us of our past. They soften the streetscape.
But old houses are small. The ceilings are low, the rooms small, the bathrooms inadequate. They'd cost a lot to renovate, and even then they'd lack a grand entryway here, a third garage bay there. It's so much easier -- and quicker -- to bulldoze them into submission, then start all over again. Besides, the larger the house, the less lawn to maintain.
We really, really like open space. It's so important to maintain -- particularly downtown -- we've paid for it with our tax dollars. However, what we do with that open space is open to question. Some of us like to keep it really open, for purposes like a dog park. A dog park is very popular, so much so that it attracts out-of-town dogs. We're not so sure that's good. And as much as we like all that open space, we're not all that enamored with cleaning up after ourselves, keeping it all pretty and such.
Some of our open space is rocky and hilly. That makes it less suited for dogs, and more for humans. We like the idea of providing housing there for our senior citizens. But we are not really sure how to do it. Which seniors? Our own? Or our parents or random strangers (who may live elsewhere)? What about seniors who don't have a lot of money? How many of them should we allow (and/or welcome) in?
We don't know the answers to those questions, so we form committees. But we don't really like committees, especially if they come up with suggestions or recommendations or proposals that we don't agree with. Then again, we like committees better than experts and consultants, who because they are hired guns must naturally come up with tons of suggestions, recommendations and proposals to justify their fees.
And of course, we in Westport like the way we drive just fine. It's all the other bozos, bimbos and birdbrains we don't like. They're the ones going too fast or too slow, in cars that are too big or too small. It's fine for us to squeeze through just as the light turns red, but how the hell can you go first at that four-way intersection?
There ought to be a law against that. And maybe there will be, if Congress can get its act together. Though that's doubtful, seeing as how the Capitol is overrun with so many horrible people.
Except the guy I voted for.