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Coastal Voices Guest Opinion: Defending Friends of Del Norte

I am writing in response to Mr. Jim Wisbauer’s letter, (“Airport expansion foes appalling, April 13,) in which he promotes beautifying our fair city with a “toilet sign” to suggest that our community is “going down the drain.”

This is exactly the type of negative community promotion that the socially responsible members of The Friends of Del Norte have responded to over the past three decades. We have always brought a positive and farsighted view of our community to the tables at which we are invited to sit.

It is obvious that Mr. Wisbauer didn’t do his homework before writing his letter. If he had, he might realize that there never were any apartments proposed behind Ace, but the ones behind Wal-Mart are completed and occupied, the condominiums on A Street are progressing toward completion and the Washington Avenue/Highway 101 on-ramp does exist. According to a front page article in The Triplicate, Wal-Mart is going to expand, and there is a new airport terminal going forward. So who is this “anti-growth” group that Mr. Wisbauer is so irate about?

The Friends of Del Norte is a local group of taxpayers who do their homework before bringing issues to the tables of local, state and federal agencies. We are people who actually read scientific documents, legal transcripts, and the county, state and national laws of our land in our free time. Because we have remained cognizant of the science that laws are often based on, we have been effective in influencing local, state and national planning decisions for the past 38 years. We simply remind our busy local, state and federal officials of the many laws that are in the books, especially those related to environmental issues. We very proudly stand on our record of success and will share this record with anyone who asks.

We live in a democracy where informed citizens are relied upon to make government work. We take this to heart and don’t need tea-bagger types to tell us our rights.

The airport expansion is a good case-in-point of how we operate. Everyone knows that Del Norte County needs a new terminal at our airport, and we have never opposed this concept.

The FDN was invited to give input to this process several years ago and responded in a timely manner. When we later found that our suggestions had been largely ignored by the Airport Board and local officials, we responded by using our own funds to hire a professional biologist and a city planner to study and bring fresh ideas for consideration by those involved in the planning process. We pointed out our local planners’ oversights to the California Coastal Commission, an entity created by California citizens through the ballot in 1972 to represent citizen concerns. Our most important ideas are now being considered for the plans for a new airport terminal. Had local airport officials thought about our ideas when we first submitted them, they could have saved much time and taxpayers’ funds. When elected officials choose to ignore documented scientific data and professional opinions, they are not acting in good faith.

Mr. Wisbauer makes this process sound like a terrible thing; but, this is how decisions are made in America, the land of the free.

Mr. Wisbauer asks if we have all “gone mad” to “allow The Friends of Del Norte to operate “under the guise of free speech and environmentalism.” We have three decorated veterans sitting on our board of directors. Why don’t you come to our next meeting on May 13, and explain to them their free speech rights? Maybe you have some insights that are missing in us.

Many of our FDN members are long-standing residents of Del Norte County. We welcome new members and we appreciate the financial contributions that continually flow into our treasury.

We remain committed to defending our pristine environment for the posterity of our citizenry.

Don Gillespie resides in Fort Dick and is a past-president and current member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Del Norte.

 

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