A challenge to naysayers

I didn’t get a chance to attend last week’s BOS hearing on the bike trail but I did watch it in its entirety on the internet. It was distressing to hear more than one person state that they didn’t want one penny of their tax money to go towards this project. I don’t understand how so many seemingly intelligent people can be so short-sighted and selfish. I thought the “me” generation was reserved for the 20–somethings.

I heard one opponent of the trail ask for a show of hands to determine the yays and nays, and then exclaimed, “Well that settles it.” I wonder what the outcome would have been if the auditorium had been full of kids.

My kids are both in Rappahannock High School. I taught them both to ride bikes in the parking lot of that school when they were toddlers — the parking lot. How nice it would have been for us and countless other kids learning to ride to have a dedicated serene path to learn.

Why should the families of this county be forced to travel to Front Royal, Warrenton, Culpeper or Luray to enjoy the simple pleasure of teaching kids to ride a bike in a SAFE environment free from traffic? Take a look at what the counties I mentioned have done — they have created beautiful paths where a real sense of community exists. I know because I visit them quite often. I see kids playing, older folks strolling, and parents pushing baby joggers. This project will be good for the county and will attract families with young kids, elderly folks, weekenders and full time residents alike.

Some of the comments I heard and read on social media against this project were said and written by the very same people who have lamented the inability of this county to attract families with small kids because we don’t have any attractions or resources.

What are we (or the real estate agents) supposed to tell prospective residents with young kids when they ask if there are any recreational parks or trails to enjoy? “Oh we’re against that type of thing here, you’ll need to go to Front Royal, Warrenton, Luray, Culpeper or drive to Shenandoah and pay $30 for that.”

This project is an investment in our county and the children that live in it and hopefully they’ll want to stay here.

I challenge the naysayers of this project to redirect your efforts, look past your unfounded fears of higher taxes and embrace this idea. Volunteer your time, energy and resources to the furtherance of this project instead of displaying negative signs, slinging insults and worrying about a few dollars. Help leave a legacy for the kids of this county. The old saying goes “You can’t take it with you” and if you won’t go all in for this project, hopefully you’ll leave it to a child or grandchild who is a little more forward thinking than you were.

Lastly, I urge you to stop the personal attacks on Jane Whitfield. She has essentially been called a liar by a member of the supervisory board and others in this community. It is disrespectful, rude, boorish and ungentlemanly and uncalled for. She is doing her best to enhance this community for all of us. And whether the project passes or not, her efforts should be applauded.

Mark Raiford

About Staff/Contributed 5510 Articles
The Rappahannock News welcomes contributions from any and all members of the community. Email news and photos to editor@rappnews.com or call us at 540-675-3338.

1 Comment

  1. Mark, it is interesting all of the adjectives you use for people who are against the trail when you have displayed the same. I challenge you to an open dialogue about this because in fact you blocked me from your Facebook account. Why, because I have a different opinion than you and I challenged your beliefs. I cannot see any other reason why you would block me. I have never once come close to saying anything to you that was not appropriate or something that did not contribute to the conversation.

On the contrary, I worked very hard to go through official documents to bring out the truth to what was going on in the matter. My posts were not hearsay, they were not bashing anyone, but they did challenge beliefs. Could you not handle your beliefs being challenged, so you got rid of what was making you uncomfortable? Life is so much easier when we only surround ourselves with those who agree with us, isn’t it Mark?

    So you have clearly demonstrated the opposite of what you are asking naysayers to do. This naysayer did not block you, I read everything you wrote before you blocked me. I took the time to honor your point of view. You did not do the same for me, or I am sure, anyone who disagreed with you. You also blocked my husband, so I know this to be true.

It takes maturity to listen and honor the person who has that different point of view. That is how communities work together and solve the issues that they are facing. This is what I was trying to accomplish with my posts and you know what, great conversation did happen. People were awoken. People started to feel that they could voice their opinion with honor and without getting their heads wacked off. That is something that has been needed in this county. You talk about safety, well emotional safety is needed as much as physical safety.

    As a child I remember safely roaming free in the woods with other kids in my neighborhood without an adult within ear shot, everyday, all day long. It was nirvana. What we learned in those woods about nature, each other and life is priceless. This is the legacy of my childhood, I cannot tell you how blessed I feel because I was privileged enough to experience that. However, this is almost impossible to find today. The nature that we have in this county is as close as it gets to what I had as a child. If we are not careful, we will loose it completely. So nature is the legacy that we want to leave to our kids and how we fought to preserve it. Oh, I can imagine what you are saying “but look there is lots more left in this county”. Just one more strip of pavement won’t hurt. Yes, that is what they said in Fairfax, Manassas, etc etc etc. Now in these areas, the only nature you find is the carefully manicured, suburban stereotypical, trees in small areas in parking lots. One bike path is where it starts, the sanitization of the earth, so we are nice and safe from that nature stuff. Joni Michell sang it best long ago, “They paved paradise put up a parking lot.”


And kids were at the meeting, one did speak out, and it was adamantly against the bike trail. These kids don’t care about a bike trail, they are too busy running through the county, fishing, helping in the garden, chasing the chickens. What ridiculousness it would be to tell a child to stop catching crayfish in the creek, to go put their bike in the car so we can go ride it on a paved path. That is what people do in areas, that have the carefully manicured trees in parking lots and postage sized yards. We do not do that here. So, you may have found that if the audience was full of kids, they would have all spoken against the bike trail. Kids are smart, they know that you don’t have to pave something to enjoy it. Take care of the earth and she will take care of us.

    Them kids know that we have tons of safe areas free from traffic for them to learn to ride their bikes, because in fact they have done it, just as you did with your children. Many of these areas are called driveways, and I dare say that every child has one. We also have a very nice size patch of paved area at the Rappahannock county park that would work well for a place to learn how to ride.

    It is the kids who the naysayers are thinking of. Someday, this bike trail will need to be taken care of by the children when they reach adulthood. They will be footing the bill. They will be the one who were taught (by the “need” that you are espousing) that the only way to exercise is on a paved path and nature somehow is not good for them. Paving her unnecessary is the opposite of what is healthy for her and us

    When you are asked if there are any recreational parks or trails to enjoy do you not tell them about the Rapp county park? Did you not know that the park was there? I challenge you to find out exactly what resources that our county does have before you want us to add more. If there was such a need for a trail, more people would be using the county park.

    Maybe people aren’t using them because they are busy working to pay their taxes. There are many people in this county who do not have the extra income for their taxes to go up. It is as simple as that. What the bike trail is, is irrelevant to them, they can’t afford it no matter how wonderful you think it is. When your income is that tight you do not buy anything that is not absolutely necessary, and that bike trail is far from necessary. Maybe you have never had the experience of living paycheck to paycheck, maybe mommy and daddy bought everything your heart desired, I don’t know what your situation is, but I know that you aren’t thinking of these people. These people aren’t asking for a hand out, they are asking for things to not get harder for them. They are asking for their expenses not to go up so they can still afford to live in their houses, because for some of them, this is a matter of affording their house or not. I think we need to honor them in this decision.

    And also speaking of houses and our rights to our own, how many of these houses will have their land compromised because of this trail? We need to honor these people too.

    But honoring is not what has been going on. As for personal attacks and Jane Witfield, many times, I have been personally attacked by her. Many times I have seen her attack others. She is the one who set that precedent.

    Jane has stated many many times that tax payer monies would not be used when in fact they already have. Paid county staff have already spent tax payer dollars, filling out the application, and preparing documents. This is not an easy task and takes many hours to accomplish. So if someone doesn’t want to be called a liar, they should not lie. Instead they should fulfill their promises.

    The bottom line is this. This project was/is VERY poorly planned. It is nothing but a conceptual plan at this point. Let me be clear here, a conceptual plan is nothing more than an simple idea. In the past year since this plan was presented to the board nothing has been done to improve on it. The path has not even been surveyed. How can you say that you know how much something will cost when it hasn’t even been looked over by more than a glance? But we are supposed to trust a group who has lied to us already about the cost and the project?

    But that is why you blocked me, because I had a valid argument for every one of the reasons why you said we should have a bike trail. If my arguments were not vaild, you wouldn’t have a problem with what I said and other would have dispelled them. With me, and some others being able to disagree with you was a challenge to your beliefs.

    The bike trail is a flash in the pan, shiny new bauble, that gets some “excited” but that will soon be forgotten just like the Rapp county park and the Sperryville walking bridge.

    If this group wants it so badly. they need to pay for it themselves. None of your superficial reasons pay the bills.

    They need to put their money where their mouth is.

Comments are closed.