The following is a second response written by a member of Relight the Lamp to a concerned citizen. For the entire conversation, click here.
This project is no different than the fundraising done for children’s baseball and soccer teams, hoagie sales for high school bands, or civic organizations holding the occasional street fair or raffle to raise necessary funds. In the Lamp’s case, the Relight the Lamp group is reaching out to folks who have an interest in preserving Irwin’s heritage and maintaining her small town flavor while promoting the arts. You are correct that the opera house was lost as was the historic train station which sat at the bottom of North Irwin hill. The face of Main Street was irrevocably altered when structures including a grand home which once housed the library and a magnificent home which sat between Klingensmith’s and the church were lost due to lack of funds and limited foresight. In one case, citizens were in the process of getting a historic designation for the building but could not do so in time.
Given those and other losses, some people are all the more driven to prevent a similar fate with the Lamp. There is no demand on the public to be compelled to support the project. However, because of the nature of the project, certain governmental entities must not only be consulted but be actively involved to some degree. Their investment is in reviewing, approving and regulating. Groups like the IBPA are volunteer civic organizations and support the project divorced from any borough offices they may hold. Again, taxpayer funds will not be used. Even if that was being considered, the taxpayers would need to approve it via the election process.
You cited the recreational center and playground proposals. All of these projects are not mutually exclusive. The citizenry will support the venues which are of import to them. None needs to be placed in jeopardy because of the other. I would encourage you, and the rest of the community’s residents, to become involved in the causes which inspire you. If you are able to donate $1 then do so. If you have the means to donate more, then bless you. If you do not have the where-with-all to make a donation then volunteer your labor…or become an advocate for the project which speaks to you…or man an informational booth and distribute flyers. If none of the aforementioned community projects interests you, then do nothing. But, don’t limit those who are passionate about the Lamp from pursuing her rehabilitation. You have a right to your opinion and the expression thereof. You do not, however, have the right to squelch others.
As for your other topics included in your last post, I think you are muddying the waters a bit. They have nothing to do with the Lamp project. Since you care so greatly about those things, perhaps you should attend the council sessions and other public meetings to share your experiences and voice your concerns.
Irwin is a grand old lady in spirit. She has weathered many storms and struggles to compete on an unfavorable playing field. Groups of citizens who will lay their time, talents and gifts across that gap should be encouraged not derided. If you can’t lead, then walk with us. If you won’t walk with us, then please step aside so that we can continue toward our goal.