After Columbia County commissioners presented their priorities for 2008, we asked readers to provide feedback on what they believe the county's priorities should be.
We got an earful. Commissioners need to hear it, too.
To be fair, one of the jobs of any elected official is to listen to his or her constituents. But few people speak up to praise. It's understandable that politicians could get a little jaded from constant griping.
Still, it's refreshing that many of those who list their priorities offer not just criticism, but positive suggestions. For example:
- Mike Moosariparambil says commissioners should "aim for Columbia County becoming one of the top 10 communities to live and for retirement in the U.S. within the next five-10 years."
Among the ways Moosariparambil suggests paying for this lofty goal and investing in quality of life improvements are through impact fees on new development. Naturally, developers hate the idea of impact fees - in fact, it could be said that their "priority" is in continuing to persuade commissioners to avoid the topic.
But in most readers' suggestions, priorities are measured by spending - and the money has to come from somewhere.
- Understandably, readers' priorities can clash. Paul Bennett, for example, says paving dirt roads should be at the top of the list. "I don't think more walking and/or bicycle paths have any priority at all," Bennett says.
Conversely, Craig Spinks says the county should have "more sidewalks/biketrails throughout the county to meet transportational as well as recreational needs." Kathy Hughes Williams and several other readers agree; she says the county should spend more on sidewalks connecting urban areas, including the library in Evans.
Commissioners ultimately must balance those priorities. And it isn't just rural vs.urban; as one reader points out, the area around Flowing Wells Road is badly in need of infrastructure improvements. Sidewalks and bike paths sound like a luxury to those living with potholes and poor drainage.
- Paul Oenbrink says the county needs better recycling facilities. County officials seem to be moving in that direction, too; they're seeking to improve the availability of voluntary recycling options.
There are plenty more suggestions from readers, and we'd certainly welcome additional ones to share with other readers and county officials. Commissioners generally are willing to listen if enough constituents speak up.
Keep the ideas coming, We'll be happy to pass them along.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.