Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rec complex must excite citizens’ passion

March 23, 2006

Last week, the Eudora City council was presented the concept drawings of the recreation complex. There is much for everyone in the community in the proposed complex that includes a pool with elements that make it more than a youthful hangout, full gymnasium and meeting room with kitchen facility. With a price tag of about $3.7 million, it would also represent a sizeable investment by the city.

When the council made the decision to have its consulting engineering firm develop the concept drawings of the pool and community, its members expressed hope the drawings would excite residents enough to support the proposals. It has been our view, the plans had to do more. To be a success, the plans had to spur residents to action.

Official government positions on bond issues are limited to an education stance. In this case, the city could explain such things as the deteriorating condition of the current pool and the crowding and demand for the gymnasium at the old middle school the city uses but doesn't own. City-sponsored material can explain how that demand will grow as the city's population increases and how it would pay for the new facility.

But that important information lacks passion. That can only be provided by someone independent and free of the constraints of information-only neutrality. School districts recognize this and that is why their bond issues nearly always involve a citizens' group able to go beyond dry data to active advocacy.

Three years ago, the city council decided to keep control of the referendum campaign. Not surprisingly, it never found traction, going down to defeat in a referendum marked mostly by indifference. The city relied on citizen participation to help shape the concept. The council would be wise to rely on citizens to unleash the excitement it was hoped the concept drawings would build.

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