I always find something to amuse me, annoy me, or cause me to ponder at a Town Council meeting in Selma. After this past meeting, I have several things that have caused this, but I will stick with one topic for the moment. Trains. For some time, I have been contemplating the proposal to establish a "quiet zone" for trains traveling through Selma during evening hours. I have had the ninety day period waiting for the report from Mr. Tony Tetterton to the Council on the subject, as well as prior to that to consider the topic.
I will address this subject not from the stand point of "tradition" or "heritage" in Selma, since I really could not care less about these concepts. I am looking at this from a common sense as well as dollars and cents perspective. The dollars are of primary concern to me. I do not find it appropriate to spend money at any governmental level to improve or close railroad crossings that are perfectly fine the way they are simply to facilitate a "quiet zone". To seek money from the state rather than the town is still seeking taxpayer money...your money...my money for personal comfort. The same for looking to the federal government. It is still public treasury money. Regardless of where the tax dollars come from to fund this idea, it is fiscally irresponsible. The town is in a financial bind. This is not the time to even consider allocating funds for studies, proposals, street closings, or any such thing.
The railroad was here before we all started living in this town. When I bought my house in Selma, my wife and I knew that we were within a block of the tracks. We knew that only one home was between us and the railroad. It would be stupid of me to complain and ask the railroad to "shut up so I can sleep". Every person who has purchase a home or rents a home near the tracks realizes this same thing. In a discussion with my neighbor, who owns the house between us and the tracks had a similar perspective. She knew that her house's front porch has a magnificent view of railroad tracks. She had the exact same sentiment as I did regarding the stupidity of complaining about train noise. This is no different than the residents of the RTP area who bought a house under a flight path near RDU airport who complained about jet noise. Hello? You live under a flight path! Hello??? We live near a railroad!
I also find it ironic that the town is contemplating a proposal from someone who owns a business outside the corporate limits, the nearest railroad crossing that affects that business is outside the town limits and beyond the town's jurisdiction, and that every guest of Mr. Tetterton's campground have to drive in front of the tracks to get to the campground. Thus, every complaining guest there knows that trains just might come through that area. That being said, why is this proposal being allowed to come from someone outside the town? Do we allow people from Smithfield to petition Selma's town council for action within the town limits? Why should the town spend town resources or consideration on something for which the only real supporter I have seen is someone who is not a resident of the incorporated town limits? That is not a just burden on the Council nor on the taxpayers.
Since we celebrate our railroad but want to tell it to "be quiet", I propose some changes to our annual Railroad Days celebration. We need to replace any parade marching bands with an "air band" and let the members pretend to play their instruments in silence. Perhaps viewers can quietly hum marching music. Any horses in the parade should have rubber horseshoes instead of real ones. The spike driving competition should have a foam padded sledge hammer so we don't have to listen to the clang of metal on metal. The Shriners' cars not only need drivers with funny looking hats, we need to take the tiny cars to Midas for big mufflers...at taxpayers' expense.