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The fairgrounds governing board was completely illegitimate in having tried to evict the Napa Valley Model Railroad Historical Society and other indigenous stakeholders from the fairground complex.

Its absurd, auto-oriented plan for modernizing the fairgrounds is only -- and legally -- a draft. Therefore, it's subject to all normal, conscientious, environmental review as well as citizen input, and consequent compliance and modification.

And, boy, did this draft cry for review, since the plan is obsolete even by late-awakening 20th-century standards, never mind 21st-century imperatives to promote clean mobility, that is, responsibly to play our role in mitigating climate change conditions.

The board failed its stewardship by planning parking-lot priority for out-of-town high-ticket users of a glitzed-up fairground, intending to eviscerate an irreplaceable, educational, recreational and cultural facility such as the Society's sturdy hospitable home.

Good to see all young and old rally to support the Society. I hope adjudication will quickly correct the board's arrogance and ignorance with respect to community participation and environmental reality of a planning process.

And that the new year will see Napa's wonderful, hands-on, intricate, awesome rail exhibit continue to educate all about the (driverless) technology that built this country and, now, offers our clean mobility alternative to an automobile-based dead end.

Any plan affecting the city and valley, multiple uses and events, crowds and traffic, congestion, pollution and health should be grounded in transit, bike and pedestrian access. But the board's draft emphasizes cars and parking. Doable only by trashing unique valuable assets such as the Model Railroad Society's picturesque quarters, to be sacrificed for more pavement and a sterile, mediocre make-over of the fairgrounds' approach gateway--which ain't broke, don't waste money "fixing" it.

I love my car, the freedom of movement, comfort, luxury, privacy it affords me. We're all addicted to cars, the fuel that powers their gas or battery motors, and especially the status and statement by which we're supposed to feel they define us. Just look at 90 percent of embarrassing TV commercials which celebrate fictions of open-road high performance, children's pride in their parents and "high tech" devices that would increasingly infantilize our operator pleasure and responsibility.

As if "love's what makes" a car (particularly our second, third, fourth households' cars)--anything more than slothful, self-cherishing, egotistical, adult weapons in our continuing combustion war on Mother Nature and a healthy future.

The board should have commissioned a plan drafted to the realities of lessening traffic, smog and runaway viticulture's homogeneity in this beautiful valley. We need a plan drafted to exploit the fairground's adjacency to transit, its suitability to pooled transportation for visitors and tourists, its appeal for bicycling and walk-up expo and concert attendees. Drafted to help lead Napa away from the blight, waste and eventual damage to property values which zombie-like dependence on short-trip driving relentlessly promote.

With a rich ubiquitous legacy of multimodal rail infrastructure, Marin and Sonoma could have emulated the beautiful pastoral landscapes of England and other countries. Criss-crossed by lanes and paths, where swift frequent train services whisk residents, commuters and visitors neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city, but necessary roads accommodate responder, recycling, moving, utility, retail, supplier and personal necessity of vehicle use.

Here, in Napa, unlike our neighboring counties, we can capitalize on the vision of the Vine Trail founders, and on the late Vincent DeDomenico's hopes for a way out of a clogged, smogged valley, by clean, quiet, appealing rail transit for all points between Calistoga and Vallejo's ferry (on our railway that he innovatively saved with the Wine Train revenue's business model).

We can throttle back the car's tyranny over the town and the valley. Grow up, out of dependence for every trip on our luxurious, fueled, land-gobbling wheelchairs. The active, healthy, aware young show the way by declining the Californian habit of buying or using cars for single-passenger movement; increasingly, they also forego obtaining driver licenses. Ask them whether they'd rather ride and walk or drive to the fairground.

The board's top-down comportment hasn't bothered to. Planners' stale, wretched modeling doesn't embrace real-world data, responsive feedback or conspicuous trends.

The Model Railroad Society attracts, educates, entertains and, now, inspires citizens. It's a valuable, recreational, traditional, most relevant asset. Long may its high-value use continue to thrive in its resource-rich, funky, fun, utilitarian, future-oriented portal at our fairgrounds.

John Diamante

Napa

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