Cheap entertainment with a mission

You might be fine with paying $9 for two hours of mediocre entertainment at the movie theater this holiday season (important note: any movie involving “James” or “Bond” is categorically excepted), but some of us are pinching pennies…

It seems fitting that I follow-up a post riddled with third-hand information and a multiplicity of latent corrections with something a little more “primary source”ish. Tonight, I had the unique – but far from singular – pleasure of taking in a Public Comment Meeting of the Monroe County Parks Department, where the county’s retained engineering firm reviewed the proposed parks master plan for several East-side parks. To say the results were “colorful” would certainly be an understatement!

I knew going into the meeting that at least two groups with opposing viewpoints would be in abundant attendance: the ADK / Sierra Club / Audubon Society set (read: staunchly opposed to multi-use trails) and those of us representing the Genesee Regional Offroad Cyclists. What I didn’t anticipate, but should have expected, was plenty of others: the dog-walkers, the dog no-leashers, the aimless ranters, the hunting-is-evil’ers, and of course, the we-must-preserve-the-fragile-ecosystem-of-biodiversity-at-all-cost’ers.

A lot of folks made a lot of valid points, and a few people actually offered some interesting perspective. More than one completely disregarded the discussion topic and pounded their agendas zombie- or schizo-style, but by and large most folks were respectful.

Obviously, unlike those covering the meeting for legitimate news outlets (and yes, they were certainly there), I’m about as biased in this fight as I was when we talked about car companies the other day. I mountain bike. A lot. While I love the places I’m allowed to ride in our area – all of which are beacons of how well multi-use can work when it’s done right – I do wish that me and my fellow knobby-tire-riding friends could be something other than second-class citizens when we enter a Monroe County Park.

When all was said and done, one bottom line emerged: mountain biking is coming to Monroe County, and the growing crowd of 50 million off-road cyclists in this country is assurance of that. The question is “where?”, and there are plenty of folks who are perfectly content to say, “over there, in that little park the rest of us don’t want to use any more.” Unfortunately for their delicate sensibilities, that’s not gonna work for the rest of us. As has been demonstrated time and time again in this great experiment called America, segregation and discrimination don’t work.

The area’s off-road cyclists’ tax dollars are just as good as those that fund the parks department from the pockets of hikers, bird watchers, horseback riders, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, fishermen and dog-walkers. All of these users enjoy their activity of choice in our county parks, with mutual respect and without fear of harassment. I refuse to believe that our area’s trail cyclists shouldn’t be afforded the same opportunity.

For the record: The photo above only shows about 1-in-10 of the people present at the meeting. Guess I need to go get one of those snazzy wide-angle cell phone cameras!!

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