Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spending Millions on "Sprinkled, Iced-Turds"

It's Monday night and you know what that means: open mike night at the Richardson City Council meeting. This week's meeting had only one visitor taking the opportunity to address the council. Andrew Laska, president of the Richardson Heights neighborhood association, voiced his support for the list of projects in the proposed 2010 bond package, projects that will benefit his neighborhood, including a new Heights recreation center and aquatics center. (By the way, why don't people call swimming pools swimming pools anymore?)

After the jump, a losing council candidate's opinion of rec centers and swimming pools.

It's not surprising that the Heights Park neighborhood association supports this bond package, as Heights Park stands to get about $17 million dollars of projects to replace its aging rec center and swimming pool as well as to purchase land and construct a new neighborhood park. What is surprising is that only one neighborhood association president took the time to address the council at all. I don't know what to attribute this to. Apathy? A feeling of inevitability? Poor representation? Whatever the reason, the city council should not get too comfortable. Lack of criticism should not be taken as a sign of consensus support. For most residents, the proposed bond package isn't yet on their radar screens. There's plenty of opportunity for backlash to emerge.

For example, James Schnurr, defeated council candidate in the 2009 election, sent an email to council members proposing that they scrap $16 million dollars of the bond package, namely the Heights Park projects. Schnurr makes it sound as if the Heights Park rec center and pool projects are in the plan instead of street and sidewalk repairs, even though in fact $24 million of the $66 million bond proposal is targeted at street, traffic and drainage projects. Schnurr calls the rec center and swimming pool "sprinkled, iced-turds." Expect his opposition to resonate with a small but vocal faction of the electorate. Approval of this bond package by the voters, assuming the council approves putting it before the voters, is not a sure thing. The council has its work cut out for it in getting voter approval. It's not obvious that the council appreciates the size of the challenge.

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