It’s been quite an adventure covering city government this year. Although conflict is no stranger to local politics, it feels like this current battle over the role of the legislature and executive branches is particularly ugly. I can distance myself emotionally to a certain extent. But being in the same room as two parties battle it out, it’s impossible not to feel the stress of the situation. Writing the articles afterward sometimes feels like shoveling dirt; the work is necessary, but I’m sure glad when it’s done.
That’s why I felt encouraged last week when I left City Hall feeling positive for the first time this year. Last Tuesday, I saw several local groups, including members of the Wishful Thinking Foundation and YMCA come together at the Recreation Committee meeting to discuss plans for building a new recreation center in Amsterdam.
It’s amazing how a shared vision brings out the best in people.
Ideas varied for where the building should be located, what facilities it should have and how the money should be raised. Different people approached the issue from different angles. But I sensed that people were actually listening to each other. And quite frankly, that was refreshing.
The plan is to fund the project without using any taxpayer money. You would expect that route would insulate the initiative from any local politics. However, if it’s going to be a city-owned building, then inevitably the cost of maintenance and utilities will be brought up. But I think it’s very possible that this project could generate revenues to cover its own operating expenses, and even generate a net return to the taxpayers, both through usage fees as well as by bringing traffic to area businesses.
But a public project, no matter how well planned, will invite public criticism. I believe those of us who want to see new, creative ideas for economic growth come to fruition in the city need to be prepared for that. Let’s make sure this idea actually makes it. For anyone who supports this idea, please keep yourself informed on the progress, support the project financially when the time comes, and don’t be shy about expressing your opinion!