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COMMENTARY BY WILLIAM CARTER: They think Our Town needs a $10 million sidewalk

There is a proposal before Our Leaders now to put in sidewalks on a four-tenths of a mile stretch of Main Street in Our Town that does not currently have sidewalks, and I’m all for it because sidewalks are cool and make you think you’re safe when you’re strolling along beside the road and there’s even a whole industry somewhere out there that manufactures big, fat sticks of colored chalk specifically for writing and drawing on them.

One of the problems I have with the proposal, though, is that the preliminary, estimated cost for this hypothetical sidewalk is close to $10 million ­– or $4,034.84 per foot – because, apparently, this is a very special four-tenths of a mile stretch of road that deserves so much more, tree-wise and decoration-wise and way-finding signage-wise, than any other stretch of road in Our Town.

We know this because some of the people who really, really want Our Town to spend our money on the sidewalk and all of its cast-iron accoutrements and brass plaques – with cast-iron accoutrements and brass plaques being absolute MUSTS for any citizen’s extreme side-walking needs – told us so by describing the sidewalk-that-is-not-yet-there as a “vital” link from the gigantic, just-built apartment complex to the historic, beating heart of Our Town.

I’ll let you figure out whether or not any of those particular people have anything to do with the gigantic, new apartment complex.

Take your time.

Another problem I have is that I’ve been around long enough to know there’s a whole bunch of older, less shiny areas of Our Town that have been begging for sidewalks as well as other improvements or repairs for years and years now but are apparently not deemed to be “vital,” or “historically significant,” or have voice enough to even be heard by whoever’s in charge of stuff like that. 


I was heartened, at least briefly, to hear a sane voice or two from Our Leaders questioning the cost of the proposed sidewalk and explaining that while even though Our Town is Our Town, Universal Economic Law still applies within even our fairy-dusted bubble and when you spend money for one thing, you no longer have that money to spend on other things.

But then They, despite that rare flash of practicality, naturally went ahead and put the special sidewalk on Our Town’s Top 10 Priority list anyway.

So, the big question now is whether or not the proposed special sidewalk –something that is absolutely cool (not $10 million worth of cool, though) – will take precedence over all the mundane, not-quite-as-cool things we probably need to be paying attention to right now.

The answer is: Of course it will.

Because, really now, when have Our Leaders ever been deaf to any folks or groups of folks in Our Town who claim the front of the line as forever their own and expect to be taken care of befitting their political/societal/financial status?

My proposal is that Our Leaders make a pinkie-swear promise to take a break – for just a teeny-weeny little while, maybe – from the decades-old practice of asking “How high?” when a certain few say “Jump!” and of funding all things trendy or new or cool or groovy or questionably “vital” or pseudo-historically significant and focus a bit instead on all of the quieter folks who’ve never been familiar with that first-in-line feeling and all of the seldom-seen neighborhoods a block or two removed from the bright and shiny beaten paths.

Either that, or declare publicly whether They really believe all parts of Our Town are equal, or if They believe all parts of Our Town are equal; but some are more equal than others.*

It just makes it little easier walking through the world if you know where you’re starting from.

That’s my rant, and I’m sticking to it.

*Thanks, Mr. Orwell.  

Posted on: 2/22/2013


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