Letters to the Editor

Indianola dock closure not a sound decision

The recent editorial commending the Indianola Port Commission’s courageous decision to close the dock is a fascinating study in narrative construction (“Indianola Port Commission made the right decision,” page A4, July 5 Herald).

The editorial parrots a disingenuous criticism of everyone who has objected to the actions of the commissioners for not showing up before. Very few people at all came to past meetings because folks trusted the commissioners, but also because they lacked a process for public participation. The editorial says nothing of how some public speakers were sharply cut off at precisely three minutes into their comments at the July 23 meeting, while others were arbitrarily allowed speak at length. This is hardly a community process at work.

The editorial applauds the dock closure based upon a hypothetical failure, despite any evidence the structure is in real jeopardy, just because the commissioners decided it was impossible to restrict large gatherings versus light duty use the dock gets 99 percent of the time. Community members proposed many creative solutions including: a limited number of hand-flags; turnstile counter; lockable gate for holidays. The editorial maintains another misleading rumor that Indianola’s property owners carry the liability of a dock failure. In truth, the Port carries a $10 million insurance policy, and the insurance company itself merely urged common sense caution in using the dock.

What it neglects to mention is the serious violation of the public trust given that two consecutive resolutions closing the dock were pre-drafted before the commissioners had met, and before their own engineer’s report was presented. This points to a different narrative altogether, one that has to do with the public’s perception that there is a preconceived outcome in forcing the dock’s closure. As Commissioner Jeff Henderson told me himself, big grants require big solutions to a big problem. Condemning the dock by fiat could certainly facilitate such an outcome.

Still, the commissioners have a golden opportunity to regain the public trust by passing a new resolution declaring the dock structurally sound based on their engineer’s findings and reopening it to normal everyday use following their engineer’s recommendations for simple cross-bracing while engaging the community in developing a long-term vision.

Matthew Smith
Write-in candidate for Indianola Port Commission, District 2



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