Public input has value

Twice in recent weeks have we seen local residents take advantage of an opportunity to let their voices be heard. And on Monday night, we saw how citizens’ input can pay dividends.
The Vandalia City Council on Monday approved an agreement with the Illinois Commerce Commission on changes for downtown rail crossings.
And while Mayor Rick Gottman and city aldermen played key roles in getting the best possible solution, the opinions of local residents were a factor.
Initially, when the ICC, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, wanted to reduce traffic to one direction on Fifth and Sixth streets, and shut down Main Street altogether, those who would be affected by those changes spoke out.
It was wise for Gottman to notify those individuals of the meeting where the plan was unveiled, because their comments not only supported those from city officials, but helped explain in detail the negative impacts on traffic flow and the downtown area.
The result was that the ICC plan was greatly scaled back, limiting one block of Main Street to one-way traffic and eliminating a total of three turns at the two crossings.
Last Thursday, about 70 people turned out when Vandalia Park District commissioners asked for public comments on a proposal to allow alcohol at adult softball tournaments and other special events.
And, while the outcome of that public hearing is yet to be known, commissioners heard a large outcry against granting the request for alcohol use. All but one of those speaking out on the issue voiced opposition to the request.
Both instances do support the belief that when there is an issue, those who have opposition are the ones who turn out. And oftentimes, that’s the way a final vote goes.
Yet, those on both sides of an issue have the opportunity to show up and speak.
That’s the way it should be – our decision-makers want, and need, to hear both sides before taking votes
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