Reader Input: Newcastle must grasp opportunity

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Now that it has been determined that the Newcastle firemen will be able to occupy the old firehouse until such time as a new one can be built (“Newcastle firefighters return to station,” Journal, Jan. 27), that begs the question: What next?
While we cannot influence events in Stockton or Oxnard, we can certainly make changes in our own community, as evidenced by the recent scuffle in regards to the firehouse.
Regardless of how people came down on the firehouse fiasco, the attention drawn to it has provided a grand opportunity for Newcastle. The old firehouse will not always be a firehouse, but it will be something, hopefully not a vacant lot.
With its history and location it could be a hub to draw in tourism, something like Old Town Auburn. It might house a coffee shop, office space, a small dinner theater, what have you.
For us to capitalize on this opportunity, two things are going to have to take place. First, the angry vindictive sniping between community members must stop. A disagreement about an issue is one thing but the ugliness that has permeated the debate from day one and continues to this day has no place in public discourse. Secondly, we will need community involvement, and plenty of it.
I urge the Newcastle Community Association to include all members of the Newcastle Fire District, and further urge all of us to come out and support both.
We cannot change the world but we can sure as hell improve things in our own neighborhood. Maybe the idea will take hold. If the nation as a whole is going to stay strong and healthy, we had better start paying attention to our own backyard.
JOHN DOWNS, Newcastle