Yesterday we looked at the “State of the City” in the areas of public safety, the local economy, and resources and amenities. Today we’ll look at traffic, parks, and finances, and tomorrow we’ll look how the City runs. Then we’ll finish up with a look at Mayor Robinson’s record. All of this is to prepare you for the City’s annual “State of the City/Meet the Mayor” event to be held Wednesday night.
One of the areas of concern for residents and businesses is traffic, and after spending nearly a decade and millions of dollars, we still don’t have synchronized traffic lights and during many parts of the day, congested traffic conditions clog our roads. Poorly designed streets and the lack of dedicated turn lanes in critical areas only compounds the problems. On top of these existing problems, the City has approved more than 30,000 new vehicle trips per day throughout the City, which will only result in a traffic tsunami. The City refuses to start a Traffic Committee, and plans to spend millions of dollars re-striping the streets, which seems like a poor way to spend taxpayer money.
There are other areas of city life that are doing well. We are about to open a $40 million sports park which has been a long time coming. And the City has recently completed some $8 million in updates and improvements to our existing parks. In addition, our financial status is pretty good, partly because we spent so little on our residents (which explains why we have so few amenities when other cities have so many more). Nonetheless, we are not in a perilous financial situation at that’s a good sign.
Thanks to Councilman Nick, we’ve made great strides in our transparency and our website reflects this. Moreover, efforts have been made to make the City more helpful and friendly to businesses, although, from an aesthetic perspective, we may come to regret the loosening of the business sign ordinances.
When you look at the State of the City, on balance, we are not doing well. Statistics on public safety, our #1 concern, are disturbing and the crime rates for murder, forcible rape, and other serious crimes are much too high, not only comparatively, but absolutely. Traffic continues to be stalled and the prospects are not good. The local economy is not thriving and is still in recession mode. We have much fewer amenities than our neighbors do and there are no plans to correct this imbalance in the future. The few bright spots are clearly overshadowed by the deficiencies.
It’ll be great to have a new sports park, and all the unemployed people might be able to enjoy it, if they could afford the gas, and if the traffic jams let them get there.
It’s great to loosen the ordinances on business signs, but the most used sign in the City is “For Lease” because we are spending so little of our tax money in our own City.
It’s great that we have enough money in our bank account to continue paying the OCSD as they raise our rates every year to support generous pensions for their retirees, but in the meantime murder, rape, and robberies are on the increase.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the functioning of the Council and we’ll follow that with a look at the Commissions.