LETTER: Why Are We Making Mountains out of Bump Outs?

Submitted by Svetlana Wasserman, Greenwich

Back in the days of the Trump presidency, as democratic norms lay shattered one by one, our local Republican leadership consoled us by distancing themselves from the chaos of national politics. What’s happening in Washington is there, but we are here, focusing on local issues that matter to people’s lives.

Well, that imaginary Maginot line has met its moment. In January, the leadership of the Republican Town Committee was ousted by a group that appears to take style advice from the Handmaid’s Tale wives. And what better way to show there’s a new sheriff in Town, than to literally make a mountain out of a bumpout?

The unfortunate victim of this pointless muscle-flexing is the plan for new bumpouts on Greenwich Avenue. The bumpouts improve pedestrian safety, make the intersection more accessible to people with disabilities, add a colorful touch with the inclusion of flower beds, and add parking spots because there will be more spaces added than the number of spaces lost. And the best part? The project is paid for by a state grant. If we decline it, another town becomes the beneficiary.

In other words, what better way to show your political power than to mobilize a huge resistance to….nothing? And so they turned on the outrage machine. They organized a rally, petition-signing, letter-writing, and generated reams of misinformation. They managed to get dozens of residents, almost entirely Republican, and almost none of whom live in the downtown area to write outraged emails to the entire RTM body. And with their experience from hijacking Board of Education meetings, they jammed RTM committee meetings and shouted down Town officials.

On Monday, the RTM meets to vote on the Town budget, and what, if anything, should be cut.

What a coup it would be if, rather than focusing on the funding for schools, capital projects, and long-delayed infrastructure improvements, all the RTM’s time was spent debating cutting bumpouts!

I for one will have my popcorn out, watching to see if the officially nonpartisan RTM allows itself to be captured by a group cranking the outrage machine for no reason other than to demonstrate its clout.