Be brave, City Council!

There are times when our leaders have a chance to do something that transforms communities, way on down the road. Our family has seen this in travels around the country, where a council or commission with foresight took a long view towards an issue, maybe spending more money than they would have liked at the time, or in some other way taking a path that wasn’t favored by the “monied and influential.”

Hotels bring in money, bring in tourists, contribute tax dollars and help the downtown economy; it’s true. But a question that is less tangible, and harder to quantify, is why do the people come in the first place? How “special” is a town, and what makes it that way?

A lot of good arguments could be made for more space right across from the Civic Center. And how parks draw all kinds of people, including some who might be ‘homeless’ or ‘less desirable’ in terms of having money to spend at stores.

All of the usual reasons why there can be objections to parks. Dogs poop in them. Litter has to be picked up. They can be messy, and money has to be spent to maintain them.

All true, all legitimate concerns. But these are problems that can be dealt with. Any park built across from the Basilica would be relatively small, and could be landscaped in such a way as to minimize maintenance. The Basilica people would overflow into any green space created; they would have a sense of ownership. It’s not hard to imagine a long list of volunteers helping to keep it beautiful. …

Be brave, City Council! My guess is that all of you know in your hearts what he right thing is to do here, when it comes to the long-range view. Are there not already (or soon to be) plenty of beds for tourists downtown, and bed and breakfasts nearby that never stay full? Make the Basilica a centerpiece, and part of the legacy of this City Council!

— Paul Tate

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