TODD STONG, PhD, PE ON LAKESIDE INFRASTRUCTURE – June 2009

TODD STONG, PhD, PE
ON LAKESIDE INFRASTRUCTURE

By Kay Davis

 

todd-stong-grisOn April 5, Todd Stong answered questions at Open Circle with the direct, yet oddly oblique, responses so common of Casey Stengel, long time manager of the New York Yankees. Not that Todd was trying to evade answers. It’s just that sometimes the answer involves a question not yet raised. For instance, why aren’t sewage capacities up to par? Answer: the airport. What was that? It turns out that when turbines are sitting on the concrete, waiting for parts, customs may be backed up at the airport.

In short, simple answers don’t apply to interrelated issues, and sewage is one such topic. How about expanding the carretera along the north shore? There has been plenty of talk about alternative routing but lately nothing about using Ocampo for eastbound traffic while 16th provides westbound flow. There is talk about using a high road farther up the mountain, a choice not favored by home owners high up. And any discussion of extending the Libramiento to the water’s edge and running alongside the lake front or over the water east-west has been ended by the contract with WalMart.

Cobblestone streets are a related issue. Todd would prefer the stones were surrounded with concrete so the cobblestones would stay in place, much as is being done in Jocotepec. Joco is putting in sewer pipes deep under the streets that are being redone. In time all streets will have this improved method of servicing public needs within town.

Toxicity in the lake is another question related to sewage if it is leaking into the lake. However, the water here is healthier than in northern lakes like the Great Lake system. Toxic materials are found only within the organs of fish that feed off the bottom while the white meat is unaffected, therefore good to eat. A bigger problem is over-fishing, an education issue. Old ways are slow to change.

Crime and drugs are another education issue. Our local community is better than many others, but Mexico still rates a sixth grade education as “literate.” For many Mexicans, assuming they can afford schooling at all, sixth grade is all they can manage. Raising expectations will come as more jobs become available. Meanwhile skills training, English training and athletics are areas that ex-pats can help with by volunteering knowledge and time.

Security will come when police are on the street rather than in the backs of trucks. But to achieve that change depends on politics, much dependent on election cycles, as is every other project related to our local infrastructure.

The budgets are based in Chapala and Jocotopec, which come, in part, from Jalisco funding. How many politicians directly affect whether the malecon and beach developments at Lake Chapala are ever completed? Quien sabe? (Who knows?) What we do know is that there is a three-year cycle, or term in office, to local politics. The first year, the politician learns, establishes contacts and begins to build long term plans. Year two, he gets done, and the media praises him. Year three, he needs to run for office so he will have a second term in which to carry out all that planning. Not much else gets done in year three. Assuming that he gets reelected, some of that cycle is shortened and more work is actually accomplished unless he is the kind of politician who seeks to gain personally from the position, in which case the whole community loses.

Sounds like back home, doesn’t it? About a generation back, the same issues were being worked on up north. Now their infrastructure is in place. And knowing that gives me hope for our infrastructure at Lakeside.

Ojo Del Lago
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