I think it’s been two weeks since I’ve mentioned issues of social justice in Erie in my column.
Fear not — the city has once again done something so ridiculous that I’m about to dedicate 550 words to airing out my grievances.
At the Erie City Council meeting Wednesday, local government voted 4-3 to accept a bid for demolition of the McBride Viaduct from Swank Construction — a company based in New Kensington.
This means that if the viaduct is demolished, the monetary transfer will not benefit the local economy.
The story gets even more disappointing. In the same meeting, City Council also voted against holding a public hearing, a request originally made by council President Sonya Arrington.
During the “Citizens to be Heard” portion of Wednesday’s meeting, more than two dozen individuals stood up to voice their concerns about the loss of the viaduct, proving that individuals are willing to take time to discuss why they think the viaduct should stay.
As John Adams wrote in his Thoughts on Government paper in 1776, “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men…”
If the governmental entity in the City of Erie truly wanted to know what would contribute to the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of its people, it would hold a public hearing before moving forward with demolition.
Even better, officials would hold numerous public hearings. They should hold them on the East side where the people who will be most affected by this decision live. They could even hold multiple hearings at varying times so constituents have more chances to attend and speak about what they want to happen.
Engineers have estimated that the viaduct will stand for an additional 100 years even if nothing is done to preserve it. To be frank, there is no rush to demo this bridge.
In making the choice to move forward without giving the people a chance to relay their concerns, you have disenfranchised those you are supposed to be representing.
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I know that Gannon students appreciate the viaduct.
The women’s cross country team runs there often because the view is one of the best in the city.
Local clothing company KRU, operated by Gannon senior Grant Kruszewski, uses the viaduct to shoot photos of its products.
Sigma Sigma Sigma recently used the viaduct to shoot a recruitment video for the sorority.
Gannon encourages us to be responsible citizens and embrace values of Catholic Social Teaching, which include call to family, community and participation as well as rights and responsibilities and options for the poor and vulnerable.
By sitting here and doing nothing, we, as a university, are violating these exact principles our university was founded on and I do not believe that is OK.
I urge Gannon students, faculty and administration to take a stance on this pertinent issue before it is too late. A contract has not yet been signed, and there is still time to make a difference and change the outcome.
As Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”