It seems that I have written a column similar to this in the past and then I changed my mind. This time, it isn't so much that I will never change my mind. It is simply that you have beaten me into submission Lockport. You seem resigned to relying on public officials who don't care and police who are overworked to solve problems that the citizens could help to solve. But instead of working together to solve problems, you want to complain. So I wash my hands of the whole thing.
Recently, I tried to put forth an idea to start a Lockport citizen's group that could be the eyes and ears the police so desperately need. No, I was not promoting vigilantes. I wanted to work with the police to start neighborhood watches and maybe alert the police to dangerous situations before someone got hurt. I wanted to have a group, a large group, that Lockport residents could go to when the school board turned their backs on parents concerned about bullying. I wanted to have a group that could hold the city accountable for the negligent behavior of parks volunteers and workers. I wanted to help.
I would not accept anything less than 100 percent positive input from the residents of the city. Is that unrealistic? I see the city as being on the brink of collapse. I see Lockport as being one bad summer away from turning into a ghost town. I don't want that to happen. I was raised here. My son was raised here. My grandchildren are being raised here. I desperately miss the self-sufficient Lockport that did not need anyone from the outside for us to thrive. I desperately miss the Lockport that was safe day and night. Yeah, times change. But a dynamic and proactive community can get itself together and keep the problems in check.
So I did not think, and still do not think, that expecting 100 percent positive participation for the idea of saving the city to be unrealistic. The initial response was positive, as it usually is for my city ideas. But, as is the custom, it went sour quickly. Within less than 24 hours, I was receiving messages telling me that I better do background checks on potential volunteers to avoid allowing certain types of people from participating. It's Facebook. I have no idea if I am seeing a real name or not. And if someone wants to help, why exclude them? Perhaps someone who has done wrong in the past wants to atone by helping out the city.
But such is the short-sighted and backyard fence gossip nature of Lockport that I immediately lost interest. I could just see spending the scant few hours I would have each week to do good things defending the group at council meetings because of negative people, or having to constantly fend off negative attacks and comments. I tried to help again Lockport, but now I am done.
Remember Hockeyville a couple of years ago? That was another one of my attempts to help the city. It was pretty simple - we spotlight our love of hockey and get $100,000 for the arena and host an NHL pre-season game. It was amazing and, initially, the response was strong. Then the negative people took over. We got to 500 votes when it all just stopped because of negative people.
"We are more than just hockey!" was a complaint.
I know that. I never said hockey was the only thing around here. But we do love hockey, so why not use that to try and get the city some international exposure? But negative people insisted that I was trying to push away everything else and leave just hockey.
"What about the canal? Don't forget about the locks!" was another ignorant cry.
The canal and the locks are on every piece of marketing literature the city puts out! The locks are world famous! What help do the locks need? God forbid we win a Hockeyville competition and give the locks even more exposure.
So I am done. Now I have to decide if I keep my family in Lockport and put up with the shootings, meth labs, and booming car stereo systems every day and night, or leave. Everything about me is here. But I may have to leave it behind.
Yeah, yeah. "This stuff happens everywhere!" Lockport was never like this. People use this statement as a blanket justification for doing nothing! Yeah, this stuff happens everywhere. You know what else happens in other communities? Civic pride that motivates the citizens to make sure that the stuff that happens everywhere else does not happen in their community. That is what I tried to accomplish over and over again, and I am done failing.
You're on your own, Lockport. No more columns about things that we can do to be a better place. No more pleas to save the city. No more caring about what happens. Is this the Lockport I want to leave my son and grandsons? No. But that really doesn't matter anymore, does it?
George N Root III