Sir: In regards to the article in last week’s edition entitled, “Access is the Issue: Lacina,” to use the language of the day, someone, somewhere, has to call “B.S!”
This news article is an example of why it can be so frustrating sometimes being a citizen of Chatham-Kent.
The concern of everyone involved is that the derelict building in east Chatham has been the site of past criminal activity and needs to be torn down. Over the past decade or two, that area along the former Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (CSX), stretching from the old Black Bridge on the Thames River straight down to Park Avenue, has been the site of assaults, drug use, murder, suicide, suicide attempts, theft, robbery, fire, etc.
Now mostly owned by the municipality, that line of property generally, and the old Darling’s plant specifically, is currently used by vagrants, petty thieves, squatters and the drug dependent.
Everyone that contributed to the article agrees something needs to be done!
However, the problem, according to municipal spokesperson Paul Lacina, is that heavy equipment cannot get access to the property.
Here is the rub! The city, the CSX railroad, O&G (owners of the Darling property and building), as well as the Canadian National/VIA Railroad, all refuse to take responsibility, let alone offer any kind of proposed solution. They all prefer to point their finger, deflect or defer involvement; seemingly, anything to avoid a positive leadership role, sound decision-making and timely solutions for the greater good.
If the problem is no suitable access is provided to the privately owned building over the CNR crossing, then the railroad should be compelled by someone in authority to remedy the problem. It only makes sense that large vehicles and heavy equipment should be able to go over the rail crossings at any time.
I can not imagine a scenario where city employees, the police, fire or emergency services would possibly allow a situation where they could not freely access any property during a crisis. If not illegal, CN/VIA, by not providing unfettered and proper crossings on to private property, must violate an entire array of bylaws, safety procedures, regulations, etc.
Not to put it all on the CNR, it would help immensely if the Darling’s property owners took it upon themselves to either initiate a tear down of their building or properly secure their lands with fence.
Similarly, the city-owned stretch of the old railroad, from the river down to Park Avenue, should be clear cut; removing the overgrown trees, bushes, weeds, garbage and debris that do nothing to enhance the area. If the city wants to own a railroad, then take responsibility for maintaining it.
On a related note, for the benefit of the people that live in the east side, as well as citizens that make use of that area, the municipality should compel the land owners adjacent to those railroad tracks to either clean up, remove or properly fence in their lands. They are both a potential danger and an eyesore. Specifically, from the abandoned sand and gravel pits at the river, heading south to the derelict clay and tile yard, straight past the railroad depot to the long-gone CIL plant, straight up to and including the Darling’s plant; these are all areas that should be vastly improved upon.
This non-action among corporate entities, this refusal to step up and take civic responsibility, this apparent lack of leadership, these failings should all be considered by our new councillors as they are sworn in to office. Every attempt should be made to co-operate, compromise, find common ground and get issues at hand resolved in short order.
As frustrated as I find this kind of thing to be, I guess hope springs eternal.
P.S. Having proofread this letter, I fear it sounds more like a rant than a constructive criticism. To a certain degree, I extend my apologies to those that may be offended.