Missing ingredient in local rails-to-trails project is trust

My father, who died Feb. 6 at age 100, wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post for his birthday.

It’s about his 100 years of lessons. He explains how he’s learned many lessons in life, but they all come down to one thing: “Trust is the coin of the realm.”

When I apply that lesson to the 20-plus years our local rails-to-trails project has been pursued, there can be no mistake as to why it’s taken all that time to get where we are — nowhere, but a very expensive nowhere.

I have heard the same arguments from both sides over those years. The answer to each side’s argument is, “That’s not true.”

From that, I conclude neither side trusts the other, so neither has an interest in finding a solution. So why do we keep wasting time, money and elections on this venture? It’s foolish because it can’t be completed with this kind of approach.

There are a number of farmers in this area I consider good friends.

They are wonderful people. When it comes to helping the community, they are the first ones to step up and help.

When Yamhill-Carlton High School ran out of funding for a new FFA facility, they stood up. They raised the money and got it built privately.

They are people who have always supported the community. So why not a community trail?

They have their reasons. Real and truthful reasons. Reasons that are not lies, but practical concerns. We need to listen to understand.

I also have a number of friends who would like to convert the local rails into a trail. They are also good people who have good reasons.

Trail advocate Ken Wright has helped this community far beyond any other person I know. He’s a very reasonable and truthful person.

So why is this idea not a good idea? Why has it taken 20-plus years to get where we are?

As my father pointed out, “Trust is the coin of the realm. Without trust, nothing can get accomplished.”

Lack of trust has marked the trail project these 20-plus years, and will, I fear, for the next 20-plus, as well. We have nothing more to show for all the effort than bad manners, insults, bad temper, wasted money and one-issue elections, all serving to divide the community.

Meanwhile, there are a number of very important school and road projects that need money and attention. It’s time to ask both sides to sit down together and agree on a workable, affordable plan, and to do it without spending any more taxpayer funds.

Meanwhile, everyone else needs to stay out of it, including our city and county officials.

Peter Shultz of Carlton is the son of economist, diplomat and businessman George Shultz, who capped a long record of public service as secretary of state in the Reagan administration.


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