This is the gist of the conversation I had with a friend while walking near the Ashland Plaza. It was his first visit to Ashland.
Me: "No, they are not hobos, they are mostly misunderstood, runaway young people."
Me: "No, they are not bums. They are people going through a difficult time in their life."
Friend: "Why doesn't Ashland have a no-loitering law?"
Me: "I called the Police Department to ask about that, and a nice lady named Tammy told me the police will not act unless they loiter on the sidewalk and someone files a complaint."
Friend: "The Police Department is across the street."
Me: "Now you are being difficult."
Friend: "Why doesn't the City Council do something about the cruelty to all the dogs they keep on a leash 24 hours a day?"
Me: "Because the council represents people, not dogs."
Barney Spera, Ashland
Thanks, but no thanks
Goodhearted car drivers on a thoroughfare will often choose to stop for bicyclists who await an opening in traffic to cross or commit to a left-hand turn. Bicyclists frown on this noble gesture.
Why? Because cars coming behind the stopped car will not realize why the car has stopped and will simply pass. Get the picture?
Such driver courtesy is well-intended but very dangerous. On any thoroughfare, please don't attempt to stop for bicyclists waiting to cross or do a left-hand turn. Bicyclists are vehicles and are subject to the same rules of the road as motor vehicles. Bicyclists know to wait for a safe opening in traffic just as car drivers do.
Phil Gagnon, Ashland
Real changes needed
Changing the gray pavers is a good idea, but it's still pretty much a surface embellishment. The Plaza needs some real changes to put it back in order.
I would like to make it clear that the old trees in the Plaza were not sick or dying; they were perfectly healthy. I saw the stump of the large, hundred-year-old, sugar gum tree that was cut down; the stump was perfectly clean of disease of any kind. Others who saw the downed tree also agree the tree was healthy.
I saw a very scary artist's representation of what might be done to the Plaza in the Daily Tidings. The historic statue of a pioneer gazing toward Pilot Rock was gone, Lithia water fountains, gone, no information booth, more barriers and a lot of wasted space.
A beautiful fountain can be built in the center of the Plaza for less than $30,000. Let's do something that really makes a difference.
Neil Stewart, Ashland