Trail would be ‘an incredible benefit’ for long-suffering Oakville citizens

To the editor:

I am writing in response to the article “Future of Cliff Cave Park trail in doubt if shelved this month” in the Feb. 9 edition of the Call.

County Councilman Ernie Trakas is threatening to deny St. Louis County residents, and more importantly, his own 6th District constituents and Oakville residents, the benefits of a fabulous and sorely needed, $4.8 million-dollar park improvement — the proposed 2-mile paved trail, beautiful outlook, restrooms and parking area.

South county, historically overlooked for capital improvements, is cruelly being undermined by a councilman who is quite confused about whom he is supposed to represent.

In the Call article, Trakas claims that he merely “wants the trail to work for all people.” No public improvement of any kind has ever worked for everyone. If Trakas doesn’t know that, then he is either profoundly uninformed about the nature of public works or completely disingenuous. He has no expertise or direct work experience in landscape design, urban and park planning or traffic safety and management.

And Trakas apparently chose to not be involved in any of the numerous forums that were convened to solicit public comment, yet managed to meet with an anti-trail group. But lest anyone think he’s accessible, I believe phone calls and emails will be ignored if the constituent just happens to favor the trail.

Unfortunately, Trakas’ extraordinary lack of design knowledge has not dissuaded him from acting recklessly and with hubris at the last moment to steal defeat from the jaws of victory for Oakville.

He is holding tens of thousands of his own constituents’ interests hostage — not to mention the county taxpayers or the Oakville contractor awarded the project — to an irrational list of “concerns” supposedly concocted by a few residents who live near the park in an apparent state of perpetual fear and abject terror over the daily carnage and mayhem that they and Trakas imagine exists therein.

Sixth District voters should be appalled that Trakas chooses to not represent the interests of the overwhelming majority of his constituents, that he lacks the courage to stand up to a tiny special-interest group, that he would want to waste thousands of taxpayer dollars to redesign and re-bid the work while placing the entire project at risk, and that he would throw local businesses under the bus — or off the cliff — based on the spurious fears of a handful of folks who can’t abide the prospect of increased property values by virtue of living within walking distance of an astonishingly beautiful trail.

I urge Oakville residents to visit Great Rivers Greenways’ website to view renderings of the gorgeous trail project and contact Councilman Trakas to demand that he stop sabotaging the long-overdue improvement, which will be an incredible benefit for the long-suffering residents in Oakville, the 6th District and beyond.