It was one of those “I’m not kidding you” days. My experience to date, one in a lifetime. Jeff and I had gotten there four days before. The weather: t-shirt warm. The water clear and caddis were hatching just above the bridge. It was the first weekend in April, more than a few years ago. I had taken three personal days from school; he closed his law practice for the same. Sometimes ya just gotta go! Get away from it all! The first and last days of the trip were epic; the three days in the middle were something else entirely, bookends. That is what we typically remember, the high points or really bad ones. They are the memories that stand the test of time.
This week was like that even though it wasn’t filled with fishing in the middle. Rather it was filled with a city council and other city meetings, three American Falls FFA Ag Issues forums for the Rotary Club, city council and chamber of commerce on Wednesday and Thursday, and my first ever Eagle Scout ceremony for Jerrik Ostler. The FFA members did great and responded well to tough questions. I enjoyed speaking at Jerrik’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor.
As I have previously pontificated, the majority of my days and weeks seem to fill with meetings that run from one to the next. It might be at school with parents, students or other teachers; or at city hall with a host of other possibilities I am typically in one when I am not teaching class.
Monday at 3:45 p.m. found me there again. This time the meeting was with the Idaho Transportation Department, the Power County Highway Department, the Great Rift Business Development Organization, Alan Geisbrecht of JUB Engineering, City Street Superintendent Dusty Whited and Council President Dan Hammond. We were discussing access and development of the property north and west of the State Highway 39 bypass.
I can tell you, yes, opinions vary. Especially when talking about opening and closing access points from a state highway. Everyone has their own priorities. The tough thing is they are all correct; but they are typically all different, too. I have gotten letters, phone calls, and face to face explanations of why one idea is better than another. Thus far I haven’t found the solution that will make everyone happy. I could live by the old axiom that I only need to make 51 percent happy, but I already told you what I thought about that months ago. So I am still looking for a solution that will provide access to potential development, current homes and eliminate potential loss of life when emergency response vehicles cannot cross the tracks to get to the Willow Bay area because a train has stopped at the crossing.
Honestly, I don’t know if I can satisfy everyone’s wishes, all the council and I can do is our best. That saying, “hindsight is 20/20″ is 100 percent true. I wish I had been in this position 40 years ago. But, since I would have only been 14, I would have made a mess of things anyway. So we are left to play the cards we are dealt. I just hope it’s not a busted flush. I have sent emails and made phone calls, but it is too early to tell how things will pan out. I won’t fold. I do hope I get a decent draw; but it is tough when you are counting on other agencies to help you do the right thing.
Tuesday I met Dusty again, this time at the end of Fairway Drive to discuss a drainage issue that has plagued the area since it was developed. A catch-basin is being installed and piped to the storm drain. Neither of the adjacent properties have curb and gutter so a temporary gravel berm has also been created to channel water away from the properties. Dusty and the rest of the streets crew have done a great job of getting our biggest storm drain issues fixed this spring. Later that evening found me at the Department of Environmental Quality public meeting on the Magnida air quality permit; the results of which I took to be very favorable for Magnida. The actual public hearing is scheduled in early April.
Thursday I met with Jordan Gehring to discuss his plans to develop his property off Lakeview Road, which is north of Autumn Way. If the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) grant is installed the way it was originally submitted and eventually awarded, it will severely limit access to that property given the restriction of access to SH-39 by ITD. Neither the city council nor I want that to happen. This again goes back to the cards we were dealt in decisions that were made long ago. The city will be working with JUB Engineering, city and county planning and zoning and private property owners in the area to develop a long term development plan that will work for everyone involved. I imagine the process will be much the same as the Technical Advisory Committee that we used to plan the downtown revitalization project. Public input will be vital to the plan’s ability to stand the test of time. Again, I am hopeful that a “common good” solution can be gained through a cooperative effort by all involved. I certainly hope it is not entirely dependent on the luck of the draw.
That “I’m not kidding you” day from over 15 years ago almost didn’t happen. The first day was awesome in every way a day fly-fishing can be. Then the next three days were the antithesis. Wind, wind and a lot more wind blowing straight down the river for a while and then turning around and coming straight back up. The area we were fishing tends to create its own weather patterns at times. Three days straight. Jeff and I can fish in wind and bad weather. It wasn’t that. Things were just off. On the second to the last days we woke in his camp trailer to the sound of more wind and now snow. We got up, shook our heads and drove 45 miles to breakfast and a good fly shop. We needed to modify the plan. On the way back as we drove off the hill, things changed. The wind calmed to 10-15 mph, the weather warmed a bit and the snow flakes became the size of quarters. We drove to the third bridge to take a gander. As we neared the river we knew we had made the right decision, as the Blue Winged Olives were coming off like I have never seen before or since. We fished from 10 ‘till dark to flies that never quit hatching and fish that never quit rising, and not just any fish, they were fish worthy of any fly-fisher’s memory.
It is apparent now the way the FLAP grant as originally written and granted probably won’t work for all of its intended purposes if ITD regulations cannot be modified somehow. If that is the case then the grant itself will need to be modified to better meet all demands. Sometimes the modified plans turn out the best.
Until next week…