The room filled with people, more than I think anyone expected. There wasn't a lot of tension, but you could tell those that were there were kind of uneasy about the situation. Then the meeting began.
It started with an official telling about the county governments position and why it was interested in the project. The reasons and purposes were put forth.
The audience sat in silence, listening and evaluating.
Then came the engineers. They explained what would be done, how it would be done, the cost and the time frames involved.
The audience listened with interest, formulating questions and concerns in their minds.
The meeting was opened up for questions. They came fast and furious, one right after another. Over 30 different questions were asked by my count. Some were answered specifically, some more generally. And a few were not answered at all, because the officials admitted they either weren't sure about something or didn't know yet.
The audience moved from a concerned group to an informed one, that by the end of the meeting were laughing and joking with each other, as well as with the officials.
In the end the county commissioners asked for a hand count of who would support the project and who would not. It appeared that every hand in the room, that had a stake in the project, went up in the affirmative.
I have often attended meetings where the government officials involved tried to cram a project down citizens throats. They often began with how good a project would be for a community and by the time the meeting was done, ended up almost threatening the people they were supposed to serve into agreeing to it.
Not at this meeting, not on this night, not in Carbon County.
I spent many years attending meetings on the Wasatch Front where citizen input was requested but not really considered. I worked for a government entity which often cared little about how it's pet project would affect the citizens of the community in which it would be placed. There was frustration and in some cases actual hate was generated.
But on Thursday night I watched as the good citizens of our county who live along Carbonville Road, decided to change a road that has existed in it's present incarnation for 80 years. Changes are not easy, even when they are positive, because they often bring at least temporary challenges to those involved.
But what I was most impressed with was the workings of grassroots government at it's best.
A neighborhood meeting is what this was and I watched as the county commissioners talked with the people that would be affected. The communication was genuine, not like some of what I have seen in my life when politicians converse with their constituents.
A lot of people who live here don't realize what they have. In most cities, and in all the counties along the Wasatch Front it is very difficult to get an audience with a mayor or county commissioner. Here we are small enough that people call such by officials by their first name, talk with them about their concerns and even about things like family, work and hobbies. And best of all, often there is an understanding that comes out of it, even if they don't always agree.
This road project is about safety. Safety not only for pedestrians who walk along the street, but for those that drive it every day. Although I don't live on the road, I do travel it daily, sometimes a number of times per day. I appreciate what the county is trying to do, and what the people that live along it are willing to give up to make it happen.
We are all lucky to live in such a place. We are all lucky to have neighbors like those that live on Carbonville Road.