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Editor, The Beacon:

I was mortified to learn that our county proposes to spend federal Community Development Block Grant money, which is meant to “assist low-income families and most-vulnerable citizens prepare for, prevent or respond to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” on trailhead restrooms. I am a great fan of multiuse trails, but I can afford a bicycle or jogging shoes, and I have a car to take me to the trailhead.

It is ironic that in the public webinar Oct. 12, the examples given in the first slides for the kinds of projects normally funded were what one would expect — assistance to agencies that actually serve low-income and homebound people.

The arguments I can remember from the webinar used to justify this project were:

  1. People using the trails need bathrooms. (True, but those people are not low-income or vulnerable.)
  2. The touchless facilities will help prevent the spread of COVID. (Only for the people who can afford to get there and use them.)
  3. The restrooms will be ADA-compliant, and federal guidelines define “severely disabled” people as low-income. (This argument seems like a legalistic straw grasped because there are no other valid connections with the purpose of the grant, but even it is not true. The trails do not serve severely disabled people, who would not have the mobility to use them unless they could afford expensive adaptive equipment. I am disabled, not severely, and I still need, and can afford, my $700 tricycle with an adaptive pedal in order to use the trail.)

This proposal will be presented to the County Council Tuesday, Oct. 19, for approval. Please join me in expressing to the members of the council our disapproval.

Stephen Tonjes



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