Mayor’s Roundtable: In complete gratitude

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I hope everyone had a happy Earth Day. Thanks to 350Sandpoint for bringing the community together to celebrate this home we call earth. Thank you to all that fight every day to protect our environment, our community values and preserve our quality of life.

On that gorgeous Sunday afternoon, I was in a place of gratitude. Gratitude for this Earth, for this community, for this lake and the clean fresh water all around us, for the clean air we breathe, for the food that we eat, for all the abundance that surrounds us. Gratitude for the hard work that we have done to protect all that we value. Gratitude for the love in our hearts and the loving people in our lives. Gratitude for this wonderful experience called life and for the opportunity for us to celebrate it, in all its forms.

And now an invitation to participate in a call to action. They say rail transport is three to four times more efficient than roads. Rail traffic through our community supports the local economy, it is a legacy that has built this community for over a century. A second rail bridge across the lake would alleviate congestion on our roads. While these statements may be true, the tradeoff is that a second bridge ultimately means more train traffic, more congestion on our roads. It means more chances for a potential accident that would be absolutely catastrophic for this community. There will be multiple hearings on May 23 at the Ponderay Events Center at 8 a.m., and at 6 p.m. at Sandpoint Middle School. I call on you all to ask your elected officials, Lakes Commission board members and the U.S. Coast Guard directly to perform a full Environmental Impact Statement rather than an Envirnomental Assesment. More information can be found at lakependoreillewaterkeeper.org.

For those who have taken the lead to challenge the proposed HiTest Smelter in Newport, thank you for stepping up, being informed and taking action. While we still have not seen an application from HiTest, CANSS has made the case that the HiTest land purchase from PUD was illegal. This is an exciting development that could stop the smelter before it starts. You can stay updated at canss.org.

For those who have participated on the UI/Boyer project, thank you for getting involved. You are helping this community build a legacy. The city is crafting a plan to purchase the UI Boyer property. The long-time vision of a community rec center IS within sight. This property presents us with the opportunity to protect into perpetuity 30 acres of wetland and natural habitat along Sand Creek, enabling public access and recreation for generations to come. By acquiring this parcel we could continue the Sandpoint/Dover Community Trail all the way to Ponderay and Kootenai. Iím hopeful that through this project we can fulfill our collective dream to preserve this natural gem while, at the same time, accommodating responsible growth.

Environmental health is essential to community health, physical health and an overall sense of well-being. I just returned from Boise where I met with the Blue Cross Foundation and the JA and Katheryn Albertsonís Foundation to discuss health, education and access in our community. The city of Sandpoint was awarded $250K from Blue Cross for the purpose of supporting youth health through access to affordable nutritious food and healthy activity. Iím confident we can leverage those dollars to develop greater support for community health in the future. I have been humbled and inspired by the leadership, commitment and compassion of the Bonner County Health Coalition. These dedicated volunteers are leading our community toward better health and greater opportunity. I will continue to work with this group and others to ensure that community health is a top priority for Sandpoint.

This community is special because of the people here that care so much and work so hard to make it so. I hope you are enjoying spring, getting outside to play, growing food and soaking up the sun.

Mayorís Roundtable discussion meets this Friday, 8 a.m. at Cedar Street Bistro. I hope to see you there.

Shelby Rognstad is the mayor of Sandpoint. He can be reached at mayor@sandpointidaho.gov.

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