T: Fair letter causes some confusion D: July 24, 1999 A: Devin Russel C: (c) 1999 Contra-Costa Times
In a recent Talking Back letter ("Don't be narrow-minded about fair," July 3) Gwen Watson commented on several pertinent issues regarding crime, traffic and the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which left me both puzzled and confused.
I would first like to thank Watson for underscoring my concerns regarding crime and the Renaissance fair. However, my admitted confusion stems from a statement made in a Guest Commentary by Howard Hamburg ("Fair will bring culture, not chaos, to Antioch," June 2). In his commentary, Hamburg states, "Over a 27-year period (52 weeks a year) we protected our 250-acre property and did not permit criminals or drug users on the land." Watson appears to contradict his avowal, hence adding to my confusion, by stating, "During a seven-month period there were 12 calls for service to the fair vicinity and surrounding areas of Novato. Six reports were taken, leaving seven calls as nonincidents (That's 13, not 12). Of the six reports, three arrests were made." So, which is it crime or no crime? You can't have it both ways. In my opinion, anytime a law enforcement officer is pulled from his or her beat to make an arrest, or to take a "non-incidental" report at a facility such as the Renaissance fair, it is significant. That simply means that he or she cannot respond as quickly, if at all, to requests for assistance within the city they serve, and thus tend to the needs of her citizens.
Regarding traffic, Watson states, " 'Concern' for traffic does not equal a traffic problem." Really? Well, I again refer to Hamburg's commentary when he states, "4,000 cars per day for 17 days only." In an April 17 Ledger Dispatch article, the traffic number was projected to range from "3,000 to 5,000 cars a day" during the eight-weekend run of the fair. A June 16 article published in TheReporter.com projected "6,000 automobiles coming from Sacramento and the Bay Area." The point being, nobody seems to know exactly what to expect. Given the existing anguish Antiochans must face on a daily basis, this is, in my opinion, both a concern and a problem. I do know this -- I have a concern for traffic on Highway 4, and that equates into a traffic problem. Oh, at last check, the speed limit on Lone Tree Way between Highway 4 and James Donlan remains at 35 mph.
In an attempt to compare the projected fair traffic with that of a planned Antioch subdivision, Watson states, " approximately 600 houses with three people and two cars per house. That's 1,800 people bringing permanent year-round traffic of 1,200 cars every day of every year, forever." Yep! And those homeowners will forever provide a year-round tax base that will support and maintain our local infrastructure. This is something that itinerant fairgoers simply cannot do. Those homeowners will also frequent our local businesses, thus providing annual sales tax dollars that then filter into Antioch's general fund. Forever! Again, something itinerant fairgoers likely will not do.
Which brings me to the matter of my puzzlement. Hamburg has stated that the fair will run "for 17 days only." Watson states that the Faire will run "17 to 19 fair days plus 24 activity days of low attendance parties" (FYI: those "low attendance parties" have a projected average daily attendance of between 3,000 and 8,000 people). Again, which is it? Forty-three days? Seventeen? Nineteen? What, exactly, will we Antiochans possibly be subjected to? It would appear that contradiction and confusion reign absolute in the Renaissance fair encampment, and that we Antiochans are being misled.
Finally, Hamburg has stated that, "Current biology reports say that there are no endangered species on the 120-acre site to be used by the fair. In addition, as part of this project, REC is participating in an elaborate mitigation plan to protect the San Joaquin kit fox." According to Heather Bell, a wildlife biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service's San Joaquin Valley Endangered Species Recovery Planning Program in Fresno, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Endangered Species, the San Joaquin kit fox is classified as an endangered species. The San Joaquin kit fox is also classified as a threatened species here in California, thus requiring the implementation of the aforementioned mitigation plan. Understand, it's not that REC has suddenly become compassionate regarding endangered or threatened wildlife; it is simply complying with the law.
Addressing the "wench" matter that was raised by Watson: According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, the definition of "wench" is: 1. A young woman or girl, especially a peasant girl. 2. A woman servant. 3. A wanton woman; a prostitute
To "work for a living" is a far cry from servitude or prostitution. The "wenches" of the Renaissance fair await anon your arrival, sires and lads.
So much for the "education" this fair purports to provide. I believe an apology is owed Councilwoman Angel Sudario.
Devin Russel - Antioch