Sounding off on public hearings
On the evening of April 12, a number of area residents gathered at the Fredonia Opera House in the hopes of getting their message across to the state Department of Transportation. Simply speaking, there were many more in the audience opposed to the proposed roundabout at Routes 60 and 20 than those who favored it at the scheduled public hearing, left.
Despite that opposition, however, it seems the community’s voices were heard — and dismissed.
“At the moment in time, the DOT elected to pick winners and losers,” said Enrico Francani, owner of the McDonald’s in Fredonia. “The judge’s order was to come up with a solution with us collaboratively, and it never happened. We didn’t hear from the DOT. It’s been almost a year.”
Welcome to the purposeless public hearing held by governments and school boards. Yes, residents and community stakeholders, you can say what you wish but do not expect that to lead to how a lawmaking board thinks.
Besides, normally the policy-making board has made up its mind before the scheduled hearing. It’s just an act to make the constituents believe their concerns have been heard.
If you do not believe it, get ready for Tuesday. That’s the day Dunkirk city council members have set aside time for a public hearing at 5:20 p.m. so community members can offer their opinions on whether they believe in extending the terms of council from two to four years.
What if the public in attendance opposes the plan. Will council approve it? So far, only one member has been opposed.
Remember, even though the scheduled event is considered a hearing, if the representative’s already made a decision, they definitely will not be listening to you.