Nearing answer on Lansing

Published 6:53 am Thursday, July 15, 2010

With the Lansing sewer project scheduled for yet more discussion on July 19, it’s worth considering some final points, more ideas, on how the project might be moved forward.

– Conversations with many persons, especially in my knowledge of the Lansing area, where I was a pastor at the Lansing United Methodist Church, indicate that I join many other voices: Complete the sewer project now, in its entirety. Doing a needed project with a patchwork approach or postponing it will result in greater costs and migraines.

– One item can be seen as the principal issue energizing the negative protests to the project. Money.  Those who have official voice, those who hold office, are increasingly aware of the legitimate concerns, mainly financial hardships, shadowing some of the owners of property. The monetary assessed amounts may, for some residents, create a grave burden.

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– Any possible answers?  The city council, with the county commissioners, have an official duty to render appropriate service to the taxpayers of the Lansing area. They have pledged to provide necessary conditions and investments for sustainable public and private life.

– With the support, through and with conversations with many area citizens, I believe there is a consensus that the fully developed, complete plan offered by the City of Austin is best commenced in the near future. As Austin Mayor Tom Stiehm has stated:  “Not everyone will be happy with the actions taken, but action is of paramount importance.”

– How to proceed:  With informed legal guidance and a vote of confidence by proper political entities, there is a way to undertake this project that enhances the quality of life for a whole county.  Conversation can be focused on the creation of a fund that may be a financial resource for particular hardship situations and/or persons who find it most difficult to arrange full payment of the assessments that are being made.

– Creating a fund:  As a member of the Commission of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority, I recently raised a number of questions about a plan to create a fund of approximately $100,000 per year, to be used by the Development Corporation of Austin and Mower County.  Vote on this matter, of which I made the original motion, needs, I believe, to be rescinded or have that money voted for a three year period ($300,000) placed in a quality of life fund.

– If the monies from Housing and Redevelopment are, by future decisions, allowed to stay with the DCA, it will be with the understanding that they be directed to the sewer project.

– “Why involve the DCA in the sewer project?  In speaking to the director, John Garry, I sense his expanded vision of his private agency. I believe he has come to see his past focus (a splendid focus of economic development) must live out of the big picture. New business will certainly want to know about schools, shopping habits, churches, recreational opportunities, etc. But very basic to it all is health issues. Crucial to development are environmental concerns, non-polluted rivers and lakes, and the enforcement policies of a community. The cleanup, for that is part of what the focus of the sewer project, a legally approved area of the county, is of the highest priority. This is foundational to attracting new business to a particular part of the state.

– If the nearly $300,000 is not used, as this statement urges, that money can be handled internally by the branch of the Housing Authority which is redevelopmenty. The wider gains of the complete sewer project undergird the total community.

– I believe that proper action, when taken by the Authority, can be an example for the county commissioners.  It is a sensible obligation to have this group vote a similar amount, $300,000, over a three year period, to create a quality of life grant program. Applications are also being made to “outside” funding groups to aid the sewer project.

– The details? We in this county have many gifted persons with splendid community values.  There are in the journeys of a community a time to say, “we can make it better.” An equitable, fair and deliberate process can certainly be created to bridge the gaps that financially stressed persons are experiencing.

Citizen involvement is the answer to create the living space we deserve.