Friday, October 31st, 2014

Editorial: City must deliver on new streets

Without much fanfare or enthusiasm, the citizens of Clarendon gave the go ahead for the city to issue $700,000 in bonds to do some street work.

Roger Estlack, Editor

The 12 percent turnout was not impressive, but having a 58.8 percent approval was a solid majority. A total of 135 people took the time to go the polls on the issue. Seventy-nine of them can take partial credit if the project is a success; 56 of them can say “I told you so” if it flops; and 934 other eligible voters have no right to complain no matter what.

The apathy surrounding this issue was what was interesting. No one was actively pushing for the bonds, and there wasn’t a lot of vocal opposition to them either. The matter generated no letters to the editor, two comments on the Enterprise’s Facebook page, and 31 responses to an online poll on ClarendonLive.com.

It is interesting to point out, however, that the ClarendonLive.com poll accurately predicted Saturday’s election results. The poll showed 56 percent of respondents in favor of the bonds.

The opinion of your humble editor even vacillated in the days before the election before finally deciding to support the measure. The reason for that support was simple: We made some progress in 2004, and we’re used to financially supporting that bond payment, so let’s keep moving forward.

With the election behind us, the city must now move forward to be good stewards of the trust that a majority of voting citizens have imparted to them. Screw this up, and it will be a long time before Clarendon supports another project of any kind coming from City Hall.

Of the two comments we received on Facebook, one said “$700,000 won’t touch the street problem,” which is an excellent point – but it is a start; and another said, “I have no confidence in our city officials at this time,” which likely sums up the feelings of many citizens and possibly 88 percent of possible voters.

The biggest problem with City Hall’s street project is that it includes seal coating two streets on the college campus, work that the city estimates will cost $50,000. Those streets are the responsibility of the Clarendon College District. Now that city voters have approved the bonds, the city should approach the college regents in the spirit of cooperation and ask them to come up with at least half the money to do those streets. If the college can’t or won’t do this, then the city needs to spend its money elsewhere.

City Administrator Lambert Little is on the agenda for the Board of Regents meeting this week, there to ask for an easement to allow the city to spend its funds on college property. Little really needs to ask for some money while he is there. Understandably, given Clarendon’s track record, the regents may not want the city getting its hands on the streets at the college. But the regents bear some responsibility for not getting their streets sealed, and they are now showing signs of deterioration. The college has an $8.9 million budget. If they can’t find $25,000 in there to help out, then they might need to consider their own bond election.

Besides that, most of the streets Mr. Little has selected need to be worked on. Certainly those that bound three sides of Broncho Stadium are highly traveled and visible to by both locals and visitors, and the same can be said for Sixth Street at the ballparks.

The citizens have spoken, they have given the city fathers some slack to get something done, and hopefully they won’t hang themselves with it. We have to keep moving forward, but we also need to hold our city officials and employees responsible for how these streets turn out and how they are maintained. There can be no more half-ass jobs. There can be no more shoddy workmanship, poor patching, and generally sloppiness.

It is time for progress, and it is time that we demand results from City Hall.

Comments

3 Responses to “Editorial: City must deliver on new streets”
  1. flyoverhere says:

    I voted in the online poll because I couldn’t vote on Saturday. We are not a resident of the city of Clarendon but do own city property, therefore my taxes will be effected by this outcome. In the poll I voted against the measure. It is merely a very expensive bandaid and although there may be some benefit as far as the ‘Look’ of the city may improve, individual property owners will not see their property values rise if their property isn’t located in the ‘chosen’ areas.

    It always amazing me at the pitiful participation in the voting process here in Donley County. As a former election judge for one precinct I observed that the most likely voters were older citizens of the WWII era. Only very few young people participate and that is a shame. Statewide consequences occurred last fall in the November election, only garnered around 200 votes in Donley County. The ballot had a lot of things on it that most people will only find out about when it is time to pay their taxes or register a vehicle or get ticketed for something newly added to the list of traffic violations.

    The ‘Nanny’ state is growing and freedom is shrinking….

    • Roger Estlack says:

      You make a good point about not everyone benefiting. I would really like the city to at least look into doing a massive project — one that would replace all aging water and sewer lines and then go in with new streets with curbing and sidwalks where appropriate. I would guess that would cost about $10 million, but if we financed it over 40 years, it might be doable. Taxes would definitely go up, but I think it would be money well spent. Everyone would benefit, and we could finally move forward. Such a project would have to be coupled with the resolve of the citizens and our board of aldermen that the new streets be properly maintained. Employees who couldn’t or wouldn’t do that should be terminated, and elected officials who failed in this area should be removed from office.

      And with regards to likely voters, I could not agree more. Young people need to wake up and see what is happening to this country. They also need to realize what’s going on with regards to property tax policies in this state. Voters (namely seniors) have passed a whole slew of proposals that freeze or cut property taxes for the elderly, the disabled, veterans, and the spouses for all of the above. The results are that seniors can vote in a bond election but will face no added tax burden on their homesteads because their taxes are frozen, and taxes in general must rise – regardless of a bond election – on the remainder of working families and young singles to make up for the frozen revenues from seniors and others.

      • flyoverhere says:

        I have found that seniors do vote most reliably and have created a burden for later generations because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was one of those young people about a hundred years ago seems like, LOL, wish I had paid more attention then…..

        A system has been perpetuated that will be painful to undo because people have been lulled into a sense of security that government promised but soon will not be able to deliver, lest it be on the heads of future generations…..

        I agree, a project big enough to benefit the whole community would have been better than patch working it. People usually don’t mind paying for value received….

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