WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) published the below open letter to Brightline, which originally ran in TCPalm, reacting to Brightline President Patrick Goddard’s assertion that Treasure Coast residents are “narrow-minded”:
Dear Mr. Goddard,
In your testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, you called us on the Treasure Coast “narrow-minded.” While I found much of your testimony troubling, I particularly resented this condescending assertion.
In response, I say this:
It is not narrow-minded to care about our economy.
On the Treasure Coast, paradise is literally our business. Both the tourism industry and property values rely on our towns being a serene place to live or visit. High-speed trains flying through at-grade crossings in the middle of our towns will undoubtedly damage this character and charm.
I love our community businesses, like the Square Grouper in Jupiter, where we can pull up on a boat. But as a result of the 32 daily passenger trains you plan to run, the railroad draw bridge will be blocking our waterways for hours every day.
It is not narrow-minded to care about the safety of our children.
One of my favorite pastimes is getting tacos at the Taco Shack in Stuart and letting my boys play at Kiwanis Park. But your trains will add extra danger, traffic and noise directly next to this park.
I love the Hobe Sound Christmas Parade. My children have the most fun, but undoubtedly, like my fellow parents on the Treasure Coast, Brianna and I will be keeping a little closer watch with trains traveling up to 110 miles per hour along the route.
It is not narrow-minded to care about your misuse of taxpayer dollars.
Every citizen deserves to have their tax dollars spent wisely. But despite your company’s dishonest claim that it is "not publicly funded at all," you admitted to the committee that "there has been public funding granted."
How can we trust anything you say?
Every citizen deserves to have the option to not be charged to maintain the crossing equipment for a new train they do not want and will not benefit from.
But even you admit taxpayers will end up on the hook for these costs, despite your insistence the railway is private property, so you do not need our permission to expand.
It is not narrow-minded to protect the community we love.
Hands down my favorite place to ride my Harley is up Indian River Drive, often to a Friday Fest in Fort Pierce. Brightline will be there, as well. I know many in our community have similar experiences and memories they do not want ruined by Brightline.
You say anyone who opposes your intrusion on our community is "narrow-minded." This entitled attitude is one of the reasons we don’t want your train and its 32 additional routes running through our slice of heaven on the Treasure Coast in the first place.
Regardless of our differences of opinion on the many other issues surrounding your train, please know nobody in our community is narrow-minded. We care deeply about the Treasure Coast, and we just wish you did, too.
Read the original version here.