By Don Mader

I was disappointed to see the rooms to the south and north submit a guest column to us accusing the good people of Martin, St. Lucia and Indian River counties of not wanting to sacrifice safety, health , the quality of life and the real estate values ​​of our homes and businesses for the sake of the ill-conceived All Aboard Florida passenger train project.

I understand. AAF and the multi-billion dollar hedge fund that supports it, Fortress Investment Group, have tremendous power and influence. I understand that the money and political support for the project enrich the lives of many people. I appreciate the enthusiasm of those with temporary construction jobs, as well as the well-paid lobbying, legal, engineering and public relations consultants who have been hired and making money with AAF.

I wish we could share your enthusiasm. I wish we could “grab one for the crew” and pull out so the Florida East Coast Railroad can upgrade its tracks in anticipation of the increased freight that will travel along the coast. rail line, even if it would be to the detriment of our quality of life.

But I can not. And I hope the citizens of Treasure Coast, as well as the hundreds of thousands of other citizens along the rail corridor who are also going to be negatively impacted if this project goes ahead, do not fall for the smoke and mirror tactics. that the AAF and all of its money, power and influence have been used to deceive the public.

How dare the rooms of the big city of Palm Beach, Fort. Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando accuse us of being NIMBYs. “Not in my backyard” is a disrespectful term often used by developers to accuse citizens who oppose their plans of being obstructionists. It’s touted as a desperate public relations tactic – often when a project is rightly damaging a community and the legitimate opposition group is making strides in making its voice heard.

I invite the members of these urban chambers to visit our beautiful corner of paradise along the Treasure Coast. Come stand in front of our “level crossings” in the heart of our downtown areas and quaint historic neighborhoods where trains could double or triple current speeds. I challenge you to stay there with us and show us just one perk that we will receive.

Here is another suggestion. Stop pretending that the Treasure Coast hasn’t already tried to contact the AAF, FEC, Federal Railroad Administration, US Department of Transportation and others to discuss the project with them. We have. They don’t listen. They are not interested in having a real dialogue, in being transparent, in reaching a consensus, in mitigating their impacts, in resolving their unfunded mandates. They would rather we shut up and turn around. This is what they expected of us over a year ago. They were wrong.

If you knew us, the people of the Treasure Coast, you would know that we are striving to be different from South Florida which was ruined so decades ago by greed and overdevelopment. We have remained different because of our love for our community.

We will continue to fight to protect our historic neighborhoods, our environment, our quality of life, our historic resources, our land values ​​and the safety of our friends and neighbors. All that the guest column from the chambers of the big cities of South Florida and Orlando did was remind us that the AAF is pulling the strings of its puppets and that we must redouble our efforts to protect ourselves. .

We are no one’s puppet. We will not be intimidated and we will not back down.

Don Mader is Managing Director of Southeastern Printing at Stuart.

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