If Mohammed won't come to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed
Remember that column I did a few weeks back about David and Goliath, aka, US Senator Christoper Dodd and Enfield Republican Town Chairman Mary Ann Turner? (She was David and he was Goliath, in case you have forgotten.)
There was a bit of a dust up between the two just before Election Day when the good Senator came to Enfield to tour the distressed Thompsonville section with Democrat candidates. Normally that is par for the course at election time, but this time Turner and a few GOP stalwarts turned out to protest Dodd's snubbing of Republican Mayor Scott Kaupin and the Republican majority on the Town Council.
Turner was not happy that after last year's municipal election the Senator had reneged on his promise to visit the newly elected council, which switched to a Republican mayor and majority after more than a decade of Democrat control. Although Sen. Dodd hadn't made good on his bipartisan promise, he did manage to find time to do a little handshaking and back slapping for the Democrat cause.
Turner responded like a good GOP Town Chairman should, turning out with pickets and signs. His walkabout was cancelled, and Turner persisted until she wrung a promise out of Sen. Dodd to come visit the entire town, not just the Democrats.
Today he did just that, and by all accounts it was a congenial, successful meeting.
He met with a slew of state and municipal officials, who used the visit to lobby for federal funding for municipal projects that include a multimodal transportation center in the Thompsonville section, and upgrades for police, fire, and EMS radios.
The biggest item on the agenda was the Thompsonville train depot, which, by referring to it as a multimodal transportation center, means there will be more than just trains available there.
Dodd received an in-depth briefing on Enfield's quest for the transportation center. Amtrak is picking up more ridership these days, what with the erratic cost of gas and uncertainty over prices stabilizing any time soon, thus a depot in the Thompsonville section would be a boon in many ways. People could board there to take the train south to Hartford or stops along the way, like Bradley International Airport, or north to Massachusetts and beyond. Where there are people there are opportunities for commerce.
However, town officials envision not just the depot, but a real commercial center with shops, parking, and all the necessary ingredients to revitalize a once thriving section of the community.
This is more than just a building alongside the tracks. For starters, at the moment there is only one track that has to be shared by both northbound and southbound trains - not at the same time obviously. This is a condition that persists all the way to Hartford, and at times can cause delays while one train waits on a siding for another to go by.
On the plus side, the railbed is still intact, but the one track line continues up into Massachusetts which means there must be, and should be, regional involvement in this issue. Dodd spoke to that, and also said that he would try to have the transportation station included in an economic stimulus package to be submitted early next year.
Attendees said Dodd took some good-natured digs at outgoing GOP President George Bush, and even tweaked the incoming Democrat President-elect. He talked about the big doings in DC these days what with Freddie and Fannie and The Big Three auto manufacturers and bailouts and hearings and all those high level events in Congress.
You'd think that with all that is going on in Washington, Dodd would have had an easier time visiting Enfield last spring instead of today. Regardless, the Senator arranged his schedule accordingly and did it. Everyone seemed quite pleased with the outcome, including Mary Ann Turner.
Turner said her latest encounter with Dodd was friendly and informative. She said the senator was "gracious" and she was pleased that he came to town so soon after their pre-election conversation. Turner noted that since the election is over for this cycle, it now is time for everyone to pull together and work out the issues that are facing the local community, the state and the nation.
Rather than paraphrasing her, I'll let you see what Mrs. Turner had to say: The Senator and I chatted and I thanked him for following through on his promise to meet with the local officials. We also spoke about the $700 billion bailout and the concern this is to all small business owners, me included.
He responded to my question that this is a circular problem. He used the example
of how small business are affected because of the tight credit of their suppliers and the lack of money-movement by local banks.
I want to believe that he will keep our trans-portal project moving. I believe he came away from the meeting understanding Enfield is doing what needs to be done and is not waiting for government to finally say "GO."
He helped arrange a meeting with Northeast Utilities, so he is doing the job he was elected to do. I'm happy that Enfield can benefit from his position in the Senate.
Well, how about that? It seems that every so often, everybody can "just get along."
Friday, November 21, 2008