I don't know where to begin in describing tonight's community meeting in OM to discuss the Verona sale. I got the impression from the meeting that there was a lot of shock and surprise at the anger expressed at the meeting.
I actually thought there was a lot less anger than there was going to be. I was not thrilled by the ad hominem comments that went on about various people and officials. And to be honest I thought these were going to come from every single speaker.
I thought the speakers were more diverse than expected. And OK, Compass Guy is going to say that there were only 5 people under the age of 70 who spoke. Whatever. I was glad though that there were people representing some of the PTAs, some newer residents, and especially, people who live in multi-family housing. It's easy for older folks and those of us with older kids to come out; not so much these others and honestly I place greater weight on what they had to say. I was happy to attend a community meeting in my village and actually not know every single person who spoke. That's a positive for the long-term civic health of OM.
Short-term, though, there are some major problems. I wrote about 2100 words yesterday where I covered why these problems exist.
So now what?
I'm sure my colleagues on the village board will confab Wednesday. Right now, I think anything could happen coming out of the meeting. As I told people leaving the meeting, if the Housing Commission has an escape clause to get out of the Verona sale, I wouldn't be surprised if it executed it.
What was revealed to me was the depth of the societal problems in my community. A woman talking about being threatened in the foyer of her condominium. A Verona resident staying until 9:20 with two kids under 4 just to tell everyone, "Close the Verona down". Residents distinguishing that while students who take advantage of free and reduced meals are by and large good kids and have good families, that there are resource tolls upon the educational system that makes it hard to bridge the achievement gap. Lots of cries for help. And not a lot of us had ideas on how to help.
And whatever happens at Verona, those things won't go away. That's the reality. So one day in Columbia I watched these great architects talk about their breathtaking projects and their expertise that they'll bring to the Inner Arbor. The next, a woman is complaining about no mold remediation in her apartment. Good heavens.
The immediate next steps are going to be important in how to find solutions to these problems. I know the village board asked for signups to form board committees in the hopes of revising the Master Plan, while a group of citizens is hoping to bring change to the village from the outside.
That's all wonderful. But why do I get this feeling that unless we address these serious issues that people without much of a dog in the Verona fight came out to talk about, that all of the chest puffing about Verona won't mean a thing? That's my thought as I power down for the evening, in more ways than one.