Proposed roundabout in Windsor at the center of a petition movement to rescind the budget
An online petition started by a group of Windsor residents is calling for the Town Council to rescind its $134 million budget, fueled by anger over its decision to include funding for a third roundabout near the Town Green.
The petition, titled “Windsor: more than just another wine stop,” has attracted over 600 signatures since Friday on the popular petition-sharing website Change.org. Nearly 100 people who have signed the petition have also commented on it, with most claiming that council members are not listening to the needs of the wider community.
A resident, Anna Pintane, started the petition drive after she discovered the budget allocated $10 million for a roundabout at the intersection of Windsor and Windsor River roads instead of a swimming pool or a walking bridge to connect the eastern and western sides of town. The roundabout, which is projected to cost at least $13 million to construct, would be the town's third, all located on the west side near the Town Green.
News of the council's decision quickly spread on Facebook and hundreds of people have now shared the petition on various social media platforms.
“Windsor is a family town and the town's budget should reflect this, but it does not and as elected officials, you have a duty to represent the people who elected you, the Windsor residents,” Pintane wrote in a statement published with the petition.
The petition has gotten the attention of council members, who said they are willing to listen but intend to move ahead with development plans including the roundabout and renovations of the town's library and gym.
Mayor Dominic Foppoli said he was most concerned with claims by petitioners that the budget does not do anything for the people of Windsor or take the family-oriented nature of the town into account.
“We gave $90,000 to local nonprofits (in the budget) with a number of them working to combat Windsor's families from ever becoming homeless,” he said. “We have the highest-quality roads, lowest crime rates and low homelessness rates, so I do not want to change the town.”
Town Manager Ken MacNab said most of the information being spread online about the budget is incorrect. The budget includes $4.6 million in family and community expenditures, he said, exceeding the amount allocated for economic development projects.
Many residents shared online that they are worried about the pace of development projects in the town of 28,000 residents, like the council's push for renovations to parts of the Town Green to make room for a hotel and luxury-style apartments.
Florence Wall, a 15-year resident of Windsor, said it felt like the budget was passed for the benefit of a few people and did not showcase what residents really want - a community pool or other amenities, not a roundabout.
“Proposing fancy hotels for tourists is not a very community-minded decision,” she said.
Council members have argued the roundabout is needed before the nearby Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit train station is developed. Dozens of petitioners, however, said a pool and pedestrian walking bridge were promised to residents years ago and should have priority. Wall said residents should have been given the chance to vote on the roundabout project before it was funded.
“We are hoping they will give the residents more of a voice in how the money is being spent,” she said. “We don't seem to have any power at all in the direction the community is going.”
Councilwoman Debora Fudge said the town cannot afford a swimming pool unless it raises taxes or draws outside investors.
“They are not free - a pool is estimated to cost $14 million and a walking bridge would cost around $25 million,” she said. “And people said we promised them, but we never did. We always said we would work on them.”
The council adopted the budget earlier this month on a 3-1 vote. Councilman Sam Salmon, who cast the lone vote against the budget, said he intends to focus his efforts on affordable housing and push back against other development projects that he feels are not in the best interest of residents.
“I am completely supportive of these petitioners, even though it is against the town,” he said. “I think it is so important that people feel compelled to get involved, even if it is fueled by anger.”
Windsor debuted its first roundabout in 2015, launching an public outreach campaign to help residents understand the traffic feature.
Traffic engineers and insurance experts tout the circular intersections as safer than conventional, signalized crossroads, with benefits that include more efficient vehicle flows, fewer collisions and fatalities, less idling and air emissions.
Many critics, however, view them as confusing, dangerous, or unnecessary.
Foppoli urged residents to reach out to him and other council members to voice their concerns and attend meetings.
“If we eventually have to discuss this petition during a council meeting we will, but residents should know by now they can call or email me at any time and I will meet them,” Foppoli said.
You can reach Staff Writer Alexandria Bordas at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @CrossingBordas.