I want to say thank you to out-going city councilor Rick Westcott for his service and in particular, to his work protecting and supporting issues that I believe are crucial to our environment. Councilor Westcott worked hard on green issues and I will miss his willing ear to listen to my concerns.
The biggest green issue that faces his Westside council district is how we develop the Arkansas River. The river is our greatest natural asset and how we use it, build on its banks, and recreate alongside it will have a big impact on the river itself. If we destroy the entire riparian ecosystem on the banks, the pollutants from our lives will pollute the water. Councilor Westcott has worked tirelessly to find the right kind of development that we want on the river.
Another green issue that he worked on was train service for Tulsa. All of us who grew up in west Tulsa or works or drives there know how important the trains are to our local economy. Yet all those train cars are bringing products to industry and none of them are bringing passengers. Passenger train service could be one of the most important green things we could do for our future. I knew that we had one of the biggest advocates for passenger rail service right here on our city council.
I think one of the most important jobs of an elected official is to listen to their concerns, especially when change is near. This past two years have had discussions about residential trash service and recycling options. In particular, there have been public meetings to discuss what changes could happen and which are desired. I remember one particular meeting with members of the TARE board and a citizen task force. In the audience were four or five dozen people, many whom didn’t want change and just as many who wanted a more equitable system or supported more recycling.
The meeting lasted for hours and my memory of the meeting was how Councilor Westcott talked with every person in attendance. He asked their opinions without defending or supporting any side, just wanted to hear on how they thought the city should proceed.