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Indianola Port Commission made the right decision | In Our Opinion
We appreciate the emotional connection Indianola residents have with their community’s iconic dock. But we had hoped for a better expression of those feelings than vandalism and calls for recall.
There is no place for the acrimony shown at the Indianola Port Commission meeting on July 23. It’s one thing to disagree. But to hurl vitriol — geez, at the end of the day, we are still neighbors, we must still live together. We should be able to resolve our differences civilly. Some residents left the meeting during the public comment period, rather than be subjected to interruptions and yelling.
This isn’t the first time the dock has been closed. It likely won’t be the last time. And yet, this closure — which the Port Commission made out of concern for public safety — is being politicized. It is ironic that the loudest voices are those who have seldom attended port commission meetings in the past.
The decision of the Port Commission was a tough one, but it was the correct one.
Here’s the issue: Some pilings need to be replaced. The engineering firm developing a plan for repair and rehabilitation of the dock was told by the port commission that the community had planned a large Fourth of July celebration at the beach and dock. Engineers made a site visit and, according to Commissioner Jeff Henderson, noticed that the dock sways fairly easily at the area where the pilings are the longest. The engineers recommended that the port district “prohibit use of the pier by large gatherings of and numbers of people until the assessment is completed” and ensure that day to day users “do not intentionally cause the pier to sway.”
The engineers didn’t ask that the dock be closed to the public, but to “large gatherings.” But, “We have no control over human behavior on the dock,” Henderson said in an earlier interview. “We have no ability to police it and say, ‘There are X number of people on the dock. You have to wait until someone comes off.’” So the port district closed the dock until further notice.
Like it or not, port commissioners did their job: They made a tough decision that they felt was in the public’s best interest. Let’s see how another scenario plays out: The port district leaves the dock open and something unfortunate happens. You can bet that the injured party would carry that letter from Coast & Harbor Engineering to court. And the liability would be with the port district — and not the three commissioners, but every property owner whose taxes support the district.
There’s some good to come out of all of this, Indianola. The dock will ultimately be made safer, so that it will be a part of the lives of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And, perhaps, residents will now take an active interest in port district affairs and will regularly attend port commission meetings.
— The Indianola Port Commission meets on the first Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m., in the Indianola Community Center. The meetings are open to the public.