It's about time. The
far-west growth plan is one of the most profound issues facing the city of
It will have long-term
financial, social and physical implications for generations, and an honest, open
and inclusive community debate is long overdue.
I believe Mayor Ed
Shock and the city council deserve a lot of credit (and our support) for their
progressive vision for
and their economic leadership.
Tom Nelson, however,
has distinguished himself. Over the last year, he has been the lone, brave voice
attempting to questions the logic behind
's aggressive residential
Thanks to his efforts,
the city is now evaluating the financial impact of each additional development,
and the issue is getting the attention it deserves in the current council race.
Growth is inevitable,
and it can be very beneficial in improving our economic base and socioeconomic
Personally, as a local
business owner, I welcome growth. But, at what cost? What risk? And how much?
aside, the city's conclusion that growth will pay for itself is based on
long-range projections and assumptions about costs, growth rates, economic
development and inflation.
are an important planning tool, but they are speculative at best. It is hard
enough to project riverboat revenue or The Centre's results for 12 months, let
alone the cost associated with growth over five or 10 years.
If the city is wrong,
what will it cost? What are the risks?
As part of my fact
finding, I have spoken to several professional planners from
and the Metropolitan Planning
They have all been
skeptical about the potential for residential growth to pay for itself. It all
depends on attracting retail and related businesses.
More importantly, from
my personal perspective, I am concerned about the "soul" of our city. The
current plan that goes beyond Route 47 will create two cities divided by
, the community we all
choose to live in, is a blue-collar, multiethnic, historic, river city. The
individuals and families that locate in the new, upscale, suburban far-west
development will have nothing in common with "old
" and will have no reason to
travel east. The new citizens will hit
and go north or
south to shop, to work, to worship and to play.
Growth is inevitable,
and, yes, we need to be a part of the development west of
. But if we believe we are the
only community suited to manage the westward growth and that we need to control
that growth, then why stop at Route 47? Let's annex out to the
Instead, I encourage
our city leaders (and candidates) to adopt a more proportional growth plan and
use our infrastructure leverage to influence and profit from the additional
By doing so, I believe
the city will achieve the benefits of growth while minimizing financial risk and
preserving the personality of the community we choose to live in.
Let the debate begin.
Keith W. Rauschenberger