Managed growth welcomed
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's latest estimate, Eudora's population has now reached a milestone of sorts. It is estimated that on July 1, 2004, the city had 5,119 residents, an increase of 214 from the previous year and the first time it exceeded 5,000. It continued a trend of strong growth that has seen the city's population increase by 762 residents since the official 2000 census.
Eudora's population increase is unremarkable by regional standards among cities as large as Olathe, which is closing in on the much larger milestone of 100,000 population and has witnessed a 16.6-percent increase in the last five years. But it is impressive when compared to a census map of Kansas, which is dotted with communities slowly bleeding, or sometimes rapidly hemorrhaging, their populations to the detriment of the tax base, local economy and educational opportunities.
Those opposed to growth will see in each new home a step toward an inevitable new school in a district that already taxes its residents near the limit. But even the most strident no-growth advocate would have to admit Eudora's current tax base is out of balance. Residential growth is forced to carry too much of the tax load. Unfortunately, we're told that balance will have to become more one-sided before the city catches the attention of the major retailer that can tip the scales in the right direction. The population growth recorded for 2004 and nearly 100 new homes built to support it (a very representative number of housing starts in Eudora in recent years) will provide the momentum to attract those retailers.
In addition to economic issues, there is concern of growth's effect on the established character of the community and a wholesale transformation of the surrounding environment. Balancing those views is the undeniable infusion of talent that fills our newer neighborhoods and makes community life more interesting.
Those issues now fully engage the community, and the City Council is considering how growth should pay its way. We support managed growth but agree questions of its cost must always be asked and answered.