Last night, Whitewater’s local government conducted its (mostly) monthly Planning Commission meeting. It’s mostly because there aren’t always enough new projects each month to justify holding a meeting. At Item 4 on the agenda, the commission held a public hearing “for consideration of a conditional use permit for an automotive shop at 113 E. Main Street.” The commission granted wisely the permit. (One wishes the applicant the best for his new business.
One Thirteen East Main Street, Whitewater: it’s a spot near a recently-completed two-million-dollar road improvement project, on the east side of this rural city. Much of this work was truly road beautification, on the possible theory that if we sank enough public money into a small intersection of the town, then we’d all be putting on the Ritz.
When last night’s applicant received his approval, it came with a suggestion (from a member of the commission and also on the city’s common council): perhaps a bit of landscaping might make the area look nicer.
Oh, dearie me: were those millions not enough to transform the city? After it all, all of it being public money, should a private businessperson have to pay another cent at government’s suggestion? If he so chooses, of course; it’s just that having taken so much public money for a project that evidently hasn’t beautified, one might have hoped for a bit of official humility.
Nothing of the sort; instead, a suggestion for more, at private expense.
My point is not that the public project should have cost more, to add better plants; it’s that having cost what it did, it should have been plain that the cost was too much, for too little gain. (I opposed the project, but at the time conceded that the architect’s illustrations were attractive. Even that concession, while otherwise in opposition, too generous to the project.)
The millions were a waste in a city that could have found a hundred better uses for them.