Egged on by the real estate industry, the panjandrums of my little town are contemplating the addition to the community of a Dinner Train. A superannuated locomotive tows a superannuated dining car and a superannuated passenger car. You hop aboard, eat a fine meal accompanied by a fine beverage of your choice, and watch the world glide by.
Does anyone remember the Lake Roesiger* fiasco? When it was being proposed, I told my County Councilman it was an abominable plan that would be badly executed by a builder who’d go bankrupt leaving the local folks with an eyesore and a multi-million dollar mess to be cleaned up at public expense. Which all came true.
So let me predict what will happen if the so-called “dinner train” comes to be. But first let’s understand the idea of a dinner train between Snohomish and Woodinville is risible — it’s only a five mile-drive. If I go to the Burger King up on the north side, buy one of their meals, I’ll still be working on it when I pull into Costco. Unless the dinner train will crawl at no more than 2 mph, there is no way to serve decent meals to a train full of people. “Dinner” will consist of two vending machine and a microwave oven.
Though the movers and shakers won’t admit it, the ultimate goal of this enterprise is carrying commuter traffic to Redmond and Bellevue so Microsoft employees can over-populate the towns of Snohomish, Monroe, Sultan, Startup, Gold Bar, Index, Skykomish and the ski area at the summit of Stevens Pass. Eventually, even that won’t be enough; they’ll rip up Centennial Trail and re-lay tracks so we can have commuter trains all the way to Canada.
OK, now for the list of horribles:
ONE: Who will be the lucky people to have their homes condemned and be tossed out on the street to accommodate the depot and it’s parking lot?
TWO: A parking lot means oily runoff into the Snohomish River, which will be mitigated by, yes, us taxpayers.
THREE: As for sanitation, where does all the human waste go?
FOUR: Where does the water come from?
FIVE: Who’s going to pay for the road widening to accommodate all the people from Everett to Skykomish who are commuting to Bellevue?
SIX: If you’re living near the depot, remember the place will be lit up like a Christmas tree 24/7/52. You’re going to have to paint your windows black if you want to get any sleep.
SEVEN: And don’t forget the noise. Automobiles, the muttering throng waiting on the platform, clanking railroad cars and bellowing diesels. Of course as soon as Bellevue commuters start riding, the first train to the east side will depart at 5:00 AM and the last one will arrive at 10: PM, just as in Chicago and other cities with commuter rail service.
EIGHT: There’s the stink. Those diesel locomotives have no pollution controls and stink like the Infernal Pit. And hundreds of cars dont smell so good either,
NINE: How about parking? Well the parking lot will soon be expanded to a multi-story garage (built at our expense). But in the meantime, the streets will be chock-a-block with commuters’ cars and you won’t be able to park in front of your own home. You’ll probably find the occasional commuter, desperate to make the train, will have parked in your driveway. Oh, if if you want to nip into downtown for some nosh, you’ll have to make a reservation to get a parking spot.
TEN: Property values — and taxes, never ever forget the taxes — will will rise to the point you’ll no longer be able to live in your home.
And once this abomination is up and running, we’ll never get rid of it.
If the city fathers and mothers are itching to spend some of our money, don’t you think they should maintain what we’ve got? For example, the pot-holed washboards that pass for streets?
I don’t know why, but it seems everyone in public office eventually goes nuts and gushes and enthuses over every cockameme and destructive idea that comes along. If we don’t drive a spike through this dinner train idea, the town will be ruined for good an all.
Remember Lake Roesiger.
*Lake Roesiger was a small residential community deep in the woods. You could only reach it by a winding, hilly 2-lane road, or a helicopter. The developer wanted to turn this little bedroom community into a city. So the dolts on the County Council gave the go-ahead and the developer started cutting down all the trees. While the trees were being sawed down, he discovered that the cost for a water supply, a sewer plant, a 4-lane road and the subsidies needed to attract grocery stores, gas stations and the like, would exceed the price of an NFL team, so he filed a Chapter 7 and walked away.