Much has happened since I last wrote this column. We are all aware of the tragic events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I agree with our national leaders that the terrorist attacks in NYC and Washington were as much an attack of our way of life and our national security as the attack on Pearl Harbor was 60 years ago. Our lives are likely to be changed in many ways, just as the lives of everyone in the USA were changed after Pearl Harbor. I appreciate the bipartisan effort of the President and Senate and House leadership as they craft our nation's short term and long term plans for dealing with the terrorist threat. Local government will also need to integrate its effort with the national antiterrorism plan and is certainly prepared to do so.
It seems to me that linking Fort Wayne to an upgraded national rail system has become all the more important especially considering the recent terrorist activity involving airlines in our country. Of course, strong security measures will be as important for train travel as they are for air travel. There's a growing, well organized movement in Fort Wayne to bring rail service—hopefully high speed rail service—back to our community. A recent public hearing saw a huge turnout at the Public Library in support of rail service for Fort Wayne. A local task force is meeting regularly and includes representatives of city government. We are well positioned for a return of rail service since we already have east-west rail lines and a rail station which is being upgraded in a step by step manner. I'm convinced that many citizens of this area will park their automobiles and take the train to Chicago or points east WHEN (to be optimistic) rail service returns to our community as it should! Keep your eyes and ears open for announcements of rallies or public hearings regarding rail service and don't hesitate to show up in person or perhaps write a letter to the editor in support of returning passenger trains to our city!!
As I've written before, I feel that the time has come to install upgraded traffic signals at the heavily traveled Bluffton Road/Lower Huntington Road intersection. Unfortunately, city traffic engineers have studied that intersection and recommended that dedicated left turn signals not be installed. I disagree since I question the traffic study for various reasons and also because over 1000 citizens and 33 businesses signed a petition requesting an upgraded traffic signal. The mayor can order the improvements if he decides to do so and I've lobbied him to OK this project which is important to the citizens of Waynedale. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, October 29th at 6:30pm in the Waynedale Community Center (southwest fire district training center) located behind the Southwest Fire Station on Old Trail Road. It's important that there be a big turnout so public works representatives will understand as I do how important this matter is to residents and business people in the "Waynedale News" area!!
It's possible that one or more City Council members will move this week to cut some of the 24 additional police officers which the mayor has budgeted for in the 2002 city budget currently being reviewed by City Council. As I wrote recently, those police officers are very important if we are to staff the Fort Wayne Police Department as it should be staffed as our city continues to grow due to annexation as well as other factors. We'll need to make some cuts in the budget but I'll fight any effort to cut those new police positions. After watching recent events in New York and Washington I'm more supportive than I've ever been of our police officers, fire fighters, and other public safety officials!
Let me know what you think!