A defeat is not the end

By: 
Wade Young

In our democratic society last week, residents voted down a solution to solve the fire, ambulance and police departments’ building problems. With totals of 452 to 174, the $6.7 million decision was soundly defeated by Montgomery voters.

I attended almost all of the public meetings, council work sessions and regular meetings on the issue prior to the vote. I listened to the pitches from the architects, discussion from the council and complaints from the public.

To be clear, nobody has ever said the departments don’t deserve something better than what they have now.

They do.

Look at their buildings. The police department is sub-standard of the lowest standards that you can get. I believe the building was once called “temporary” 40-plus years ago, yet the department is still housed there today.

City Hall was built in 1974 and has a lot of problems for the two departments it houses and the city staff who work in it. Not much has been done to the building since its completion. It shows.

The fire department has to store its vehicles in different buildings around town, including Hruby Rentals.

We need efficient spaces for these departments.

However, we need other things too, like our streets to be repaired.

The city has a plan for that too. On October 21, City Engineer Chris Cavett of the firm SEH, presented the 2020 Street Improvement Project. The 47-page document detailed the street repairs for Welco streets and Countryside Drive.

The report included a lot of information, including the assessments those property owners will pay for said repairs.

Similarly, the city also has a plan to completely reconstruct streets in Circle Drive in a couple of years, and many other streets after that.

This is great, but all of those repairs cost those taxpayers money, which would have been added to the fire/ambulance hall cost, had it passed.

Add to that growing bill are the costs for the Justice Center, school construction, and general levy increases.

When is it too much?

Based on last week’s vote: now!

As Cindy Flicek commented, “It’s easy to spend someone else’s money.”

I hope the council remembers that when planning its projects. I know they talked about it many times during meetings. They said they talked to the public, but, in my opinion, an additional $6 million to everything else was A LOT of money for our little community to absorb.

Maybe once some of the city’s debt is paid down, and the city and fire departments start saving for it, another vote might have a different outcome.

Because it was voted down, that doesn’t mean it can’t and shouldn’t be revisited. In 2001, the Library Task Force asked voters to approve a library referendum for a new building on First Street where Westerman Lumber stood - the space occupied today by Frandsen Bank and Trust.

Residents voted it down.

In 2005, Greg Morgan, President of First National Bank, which was then the current library, sold his building on Oak Avenue to the city for $1 (basically donated) so it could renovate it for the library. He then built a new First National Bank, which is now Frandsen Bank and Trust where the library was going to go.

It was a win-win for the community. We got a beautiful, new building and an older one that was renovated to look new, instead of sitting empty.

Napoleon Hill, the author of "Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century,” wrote, “When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

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