Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 10, 2006 > The deafening roar of silence

The deafening roar of silence

There is nothing original in the title, I stole the phrase from a variety of sources including Simon and Garfunkel's 1985 hit single, Sounds of Silence. After reviewing the lyrics of this song, written in frustration and the aftermath of assassinations of larger-than-life figures in American politics, they still ring true today. As we approach the mid-term elections to fill local elected positions and important ballot measures, some critical information and decisions are lost in an unnatural silence, at least until the ballots have been counted.

Questions about progress or lack thereof, of highly touted Fremont city projects are being shelved pending the outcome of initiatives and funding mechanisms. For instance, the Fremont Water Park facility had been scheduled for discussion weeks ago but then withdrawn. Does this have anything to do with the potential of additional funds from Measure L, the Utility Tax? Is there a need to slip a few bucks from the pot for "general governmental purposes" to shore up shaky projects? I have no inside track on this but wonder why suddenly there is a dearth of information about this showpiece project.

It would be difficult to face supporters of the water park if it, again, faces serious financial deficit.  Citizens and institutions such as the Candle Lighters who answered the city's call for public support so it could be eligible to receive grant monies and Fremont Bank, whose gift to bail out the floundering project kept it alive would not appreciate any deception. Information of this sort would not bode well for those who have made a case for additional taxes to reward and support the due diligence of our local government.

Let's look at another Fremont showpiece, the downtown development. A cacophony of silence is conspicuous here as well. It seems that we will hear plenty of talk about the Fremont A's and the commendable success of Pacific Commons, but what of projects that have been hot topics for short periods and then fall below the public radar for long periods without updates. They rise every now and then to a discussion by a group of experts who babble in technospeak, pocket fees and then disappear once more. Are we building another Tower of Babel that will prove unworthy of the time, effort and money spent on its construction?

Information related to redevelopment's Centerville Market Place is hard to come by too. Again, a council (aka Redevelopment Agency Board) probe into this has found a place on the shelf to reside. An attempt was in the works to temporarily relieve the project from a retail tenant requirement in order to move things forward on the residential side. Considering that this project began as a commercial endeavor and morphed into a "mixed use" project, the move toward residential without remaining true to its retail roots seems suspicious and ill advised.

The soothing harmony of the Simon and Garfunkel duet gently talk of darkness as "my old friend" and speak of a "silence like a cancer grows" while "no one dared disturb the sound of silence." In the pre-election days where trust remains a central issue for support of candidates and ballot measures, silence and darkness do become friends to those who prefer to defer active civic discussion of monetary policies. Why has the city council calendar become so quiet? Although meetings are now mercifully short and allow everyone to go home at a decent hour, the lack of agenda items is troubling. Is there little to say or do about the topics mentioned above as well as affordable housing and transportation or have they been relegated to the recesses of backrooms and put on hold until elections establish a "new order?"

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