Last week’s tragic bicycling accident – where an Ohio woman, Maria Crozier, 31, died on Main Street after riding a rental bike into the side of a box truck and slipped underneath its rear wheels – gives us all pause. We are all incredibly saddened for the woman and her husband, celebrating their one-year anniversary at St. Helena’s Harvest Inn.
We cannot do anything about what is past. But, the woman’s death does not need to be senseless. It can provide impetus for all of us to take action. We need to create a grid of safe streets throughout St. Helena, so that anyone who rides a bike can do so safely. This is not my idea — it is being discussed by Pam Smithers, who brought it to cyclist Ric Henry, a member of the city’s Active Transportation Committee.
This tragic accident is a perfect impetus for the ATC to create a safe grid of bicycling paths today, before another accident takes place. Although the Napa Valley Vine Trail is going to be the safest bicycling path throughout the Napa Valley — because it is separate from cars — it hasn’t been built yet in St. Helena. The ATC includes chairs John Newlin and Aaron Pott. Besides Henry, committee members are Norma Ferriz and Jake Scheideman. Alternates are Patricia Clarey and Christopher Cole.
If you’ve been reading the news, you know that the city of St. Helena is in dire financial straits, facing a $1.5 million deficit for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1. Between now and then, the St. Helena City Council will have to decide how to cut $1 million. City Manager Jennifer Phillips has said that all of the cuts will be painful and that there is “no low-hanging fruit” and no fat in the budget.
On Thursday or Friday, Phillips will release her staff report detailing specific plans to save the $1 million. The City Council will discuss those cuts during its Tuesday evening meeting. Those decisions won’t be easy ones to make and we all should pray for wisdom for the council and city staff.
Does St. Helena need a world-class library with tons of programs, services and activities? Does it need a police department to provide for the safety of its citizens? Are you expecting to be helped when you visit City Hall for a planning permit or to discuss a local issue? What would happen if City Hall were closed the day you were there? Or if there wasn’t anyone at the counter when you walked in?
Do you enjoy walking in Jacob Meily Park, or playing soccer there? What would happen if the grass weren’t cut, the playground equipment not maintained or the bathrooms cleaned once a week or once in a while, because the city had no one to do so? How would you feel if the downtown sidewalks were allowed to buckle because of the growth of the tree roots? Or, if the elms in the elm tunnel weren’t taken care of? Should the city cut its support of the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce? And, with a reduced budget, can the chamber afford to operate a visitor center that’s open seven days a week or market our town to those who wish to visit here?
You can be sure that Phillips has examined all of these issues and many more in her deliberations. None of the cuts will be easy and all will be upsetting at least to someone. If you want your voice heard, or just to learn what’s going on, plan on attending that meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, at Vintage Hall.