Good news, right? You don't know local politics. After the jump, a look at how this good deed is being received.
True to the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished, the criticism was swift and sharp.
- "How come I didn't know about this?" How, indeed? It's not like the park wasn't prominently featured in the 2010 bond proposal that was put to the voters and approved by a wide margin. It's not like there weren't public hearings to obtain neighborhood input on location and design features. It's not like the council, in open session on October 10, didn't authorize the city manager to negotiate the property purchases, even naming the targeted addresses. Still, some critics claim some secret conspiracy at work to spend taxpayer dollars on an unwanted amenity.
- "I didn't know they were going to tear down houses for the park." Then you weren't paying attention. The neighborhood targeted for the park was targeted specifically because the neighborhood was full of houses but had no park. It was always obvious that to retrofit even a small park into that housing development, you'd have to tear down a few houses.
- "Why were the negotiations with property owners kept a secret?" Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Try to negotiate a property purchase in public and see the asking prices go up. Do it in private and see the critics complain about a secret cabal at work.
- "Parks aren't always an asset to a neighborhood." Really?!? Name one neighborhood with well-maintained homes and schools and an active neighborhood association in which the park is the problem. More likely, it's the whole neighborhood that is in decline, *including* the park. A new park fights decline.
- "It would be nice if another stop sign came with this." Sigh. This is a variant of "What have you done for me lately?"
City of Richardson, learn a lesson from this. In these days of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (my latest favorite), the city has to be swifter in its communications with the public. Even if you do everything right leading up to a big transaction like this, it's that last, final step that's going to get the most attention. If the public doesn't get accurate, official information from the city, someone else will be all too willing to fill the void with inaccurate information. Try to stay ahead of that.