T: Fair backers, foes need to keep talking A: Editorial D: April 20, 1999 C: (c) 1999 Contra Costa Newspapers
THE RENAISSANCE Pleasure Faire may be homeless for a year as a result of Thursday night's meeting for Antioch residents and fair officials. Most of the approximately 200 residents who came to the meeting oppose the fair out of concerns about environmental effects, increased traffic and crime.
Officials with the fair's parent company, Renaissance Entertainment Corp., said at the meeting that they plan to include a full environmental report with their permit request to the city, which will delay the process and likely keep the fair from opening this year in Antioch.
The environmental report is a good idea. We hope that it will ease residents' fears about how the fair will change their community. But it's too bad that the process will end up taking longer than anticipated.
Development plans forced the fair to move from its Novato location -- where it apparently flourished for years with few complaints -- and several communities have rejected it. Now it's focusing on Antioch, and many residents don't want the fair here. Some even worry that it's already a done deal, a concern that apparently arose because the city of Antioch's Web site includes a link to the fair's Web site.
The fair, however, isn't a done deal. In fact, the process is still in the early stages, with hearings still to be held before the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Fair organizers want to make the fair work for Antioch. They want residents to welcome the fair to the community. Residents' concerns are valid, but the fair still has a lot of potential for doing some good things for their city, aside from boosting tax revenue.
Yes, more traffic is a negative; on the other hand, it would be wonderful to see Antioch become a destination. Having the Renaissance Pleasure Faire -- a long-time Bay Area tradition -- in our community will add a positive new angle to the city's image -- an image that hasn't always been favorable in other parts of the county.
What it comes down to, however, is deciding whether the good outweighs the bad. That's why residents need to stay involved, attending the hearings and learning as much as possible about the fair. Antioch's leaders must do their part as well, and seriously listen to and consider what residents want. Fair backers and foes all need to have open minds and be willing to consider each other's points of view -- and that won't be easy in Antioch a city that already is struggling with major growing pains.