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The sound of silence
On May 19, I became
an official patron of
the Arlington Public Library.
Stopping by to drop in my ballot, I chanced upon a boxed set of rare rock music. For the time it took to fill out a library card application, it was mine for three weeks! CDs and card in hand, I left that little library, and on the way to its tiny parking lot, I took a long look at the lot across the street that would soon host an important slice of Arlington's future.
It was a good moment. And, like too many good moments, it didn't last very long. By the end of the week, Arlington's silent-yet-ruling minority had spoken, and this town had lost its new library. At last count, slightly more than 40 percent of voters had delivered a loud slap to the collective majority. They had maligned the other side of the fence with the same backhanded brush that they used to tar themselves with "Arlington, the town that turned down a new library three times."
Clearly, the silent minority should be acknowledged, their reasoning needs to be explored. We've voted to bring the hospital out of the
Dark Ages, voted to bring EMS and the police department into the 21st century, built a new high school why hasn't one of the last pieces of the modern infrastructure puzzle been put in place?
Was the proposed site of the new library - a handful of blocks east of Olympic Avenue a factor? Do a significant percentage of voters in southwest Arlington restrict their attentions and daily routines to Smokey Point, and various destinations to the south?
Do some new Arlingtonians feel disconnected to the community? Admittedly, there is a general sense of guarded friendliness to be found in Arlington between parades, a tone that I understand has existed for at least a few decades. But Arlington is a Pacific Northwest town, and varying thicknesses of civil veneer coat everything in these parts.
Are there residents who view Arlington as little more than someplace to sleep between work shifts, and between shopping and recreation elsewhere on the weekends?
Could there be a significant "no new taxes" element lurking about town? If so, I can sympathize with maintaining a blinding rage towards anything resembling bureaucracy. However, this society will not be getting any cheaper to live in; my advice would be to go build a cabin in the woods.
Finances couldn't have been an issue... or could they? The sacrifice to the average homeowner would have amounted to one less latte a month, but who knows what kind of knee-jerk reactions rising gas prices and economic uncertainty can create. My wife and I definitely qualified for our tax rebate; we're going to tear up a big chunk of our lawn in order to plant vegetables to help offset our grocery bill. But we voted for a new library, just as when another cop or fireman is needed, we'll gladly chip in our share. We're not super-citizens by any means, we just believe in investing in our community. And an investment in a new library would have paid daily dividends.
Why was this bond defeated? It could very well be a combination of the aforementioned reasons, or none of them. The voting majority may never know, as public debates in Arlington are as rare as tornados and there hasn't been any negative "buzz" on the street, no mutterings in grocery store aisles, no letters of protest to local papers.
Arlington's silent minority, I'm asking for your reason(s) for quashing this opportunity. Don't solely rely on your vote to speak for you that sparks too many uncomplimentary conclusions. An anonymous message on a pink Post-It will suffice as long it's not attached to a rock.
Until the enthusiastic majority and silent minority can find a way to hash out their differences outside the ballot box, it's only going to get more and more difficult to get things done here.