Thoughts on the Bypass, Trees, and Values (letter to the editor)

Statement by Madge Strong to City Council, 6-28-17


WILLITS, 7/1/17 — The following is a statement read by Willits Councilwoman Madge Strong to the Willits City Council, at their regular meeting on Wednesday, 6/28/17. It has been forwarded to us as a letter to the editor.

From Madge Strong:

There have been some ironic and disturbing revelations in the past couple weeks.

One is the news that instead of costing a mere $300 million, the Caltrans Willits Bypass actually has cost $460 million. Compare that with the City’s total general fund expense (in the proposed ’17-‘18 budget) of $4.2 million – in other words, the money spent on this freeway could have provided  police, parks & recreation, roads & public works, planning, and administration for our entire City for well over 100 years.

Because of the Bypass’ impact on our local economy, and in turn the City’s expected reduced gas, sales and transient occupancy tax revenues, the budget projects a $400,000 general fund deficit. The Bypass cost more than 1,000 times that shortfall!

Most of the Bypass cost was borne by state taxpayers (which includes us, of course), but about $42 million came from MCOG’s transportation funds, wiping out pretty much all funds for our entire county’s needed road projects.

It’s no use crying over spilt milk and all those hundreds of millions of dollars that could have been saved if Caltrans had considered a different bypass – one that better served our community, environment and Native heritage.

Now we must try to put our town on the map as one of the best towns in northern California, worth getting off the freeway for. Try to help our businesses survive and thrive post-Bypass. Count on our small City staff to keep our services going with their dedication.   

But then it’s especially ironic that Caltrans, on a small little project here in town, decided it was more convenient to cut down four lovely old cork oak trees on Main Street in front of the High School than to work around them.  Shade, beauty, and nature weren’t valued. Again, no use crying over spilt milk…

But there’s something wrong with the priorities in this country and in this state, when billions are siphoned from programs that serve public needs and instead give tax cuts and enrich the richest few, the special interests. When we spend more on prisons than education. When we ignore climate change while continuing to burn coal, frack for oil, and – yes – build more freeways and cut down trees.  

Here locally, what are our priorities and values? In whatever ways we can, I want Willits to be part of the solution. Let’s help and support each other in our community, make improvements that benefit all, and protect the precious resources we still are blessed with. It’s up to us, individually and collectively, with our hearts, hands and brains, to make the future we want for our children and grandchildren.

Madge Strong is a councilwoman for the City of Willits.

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  1. tree’s what tree’s good for nothing and the shortest route around willit’s ? and the corck tree’s who didn’t know they were going to be cut down ? was this not the job of willit’s city council to see what was going to happen along 101 north before sherwood road ? you have a man who run’s city public work’s that use to be ground’s keeper marge is this a smart move ?? and the in dangered wood’s north along the hwy good for what to look at right ?as far as gas -oil they drilled here long before any one knew it did they frack NO did they find gas -oil yes they found gas in more then one place west of town and south east of town .one could go on and on talking about saving this all for our children yes my grandchildren and when we place so manny rule’s we have no fishing industry we have to buy from foreign place’s for higher price’s. food from south america and wood from them also which most is logged frm america in the ocean ?

  2. As horrible as this particular project has turned out to be, it’s just one example of many highlighting misplaced priorities and enormous waste of public money. At this point in history, and for countess reasons, we’re all trapped in a way of life with no future.

    “Spilt milk”? Actually, it’s all over but the crying.

  3. Whatever. I remember all too well what it used to be like driving through Willits on July 4th weekend. Thank you CalTrans.

  4. I can tell you in Laytonville we can hardly get gas at our one gas station, especially on the weekend.
    Willits has had too many empty store fronts for far to long….now with Amazon & Walmart competing for their delivery business including food I suggest Safeway become much more responsive to customer choice than vendor resets!
    Since Safeway was rebuilt it has really gone downhill….not enough employees…usually out of sale items….lack of concern for customer complains. No back stock. Won’t bring in items customers want. Why?
    People drive 50 or more miles to go to Safeway, they don’t want to hear we will have it tomorrow when they get there!
    The deli is always understaffed, I’ve walked away more than once….You to can go out of business Safeway.
    Might as well just stay on the bypass and get it in Ukiah.
    Hey wait, actually Walmart will bring it to me. Are you listening Safeway? You may not hear it but I hear the customers in the very narrow isles complaining.

  5. Wow. You really wanted the trip north to choke on the streets of Willits? Whatever the cost, the past is over. Willits will evolve and develop SO quickly, you may not recognize it in a few years! Prepare yourselves for the future, and stop fussing! Get over yourselves, it’s almost 2018. Willits has SO many other problems, and the economy WILL improve if you develop services, housing, police, and schools. Focus on what you need, not just what you can’t control. You have a beautiful hospital, a very nice location, and a developing real estate industry. Tourism is coming back. Folks are moving to Willits.
    Be positive, go forward, evolve. No fear! If you can’t get over the past, turn your office over to the new folks!

    • Uh-huh… tell that to Cloverdale when the bypass went in; actually any small town that has had a by-pass becomes the past, shriveled and dead.

  6. Really? You are fussing about SAFEWAY?

    If you don’t like it, don’t shop there!

    The problems of Willits:
    Too many tweakers hanging out on your streets all day.
    Too many people walking around with a weapon in their hand.
    Cops who seem to do nothing but cruise around.
    WAY too many growers in pickups, smoking weed in public.

    City council stuck in the past. Old folks need to check the calendar occaisionally!

    It’s a whole new world, Willits. Have you been to Ukiah lately? OH and the weed economy? That stuff is nearly at the end, so get your town ready for the future!

  7. There is already an excellent bypass: I-5 .

    Bypasses the north coast entirely. Keeps you from wasting time in Willits. And Humboldt. Just go straight to Oregon! No weirdos. No culture-less uneducated bumkins. Like the ones here in Garberville South (Willits).

  8. And speaking of Southern Garberville: Have you been to Howard Hospital lately? Should probably visit before AH shuts it down entirely, and you have to drive to the bay area. Actually, the bay area is a much better choice for quality healthcare than the local options… Or go to Yuba City!