I see where the Sikeston City Council this week approved spending $400,000 for a new walking trail to connect the kindergarten to the Sports Complex. Now let me say from the beginning, I think our community is blessed with an effective and pro-active City Council that is extremely attuned to the needs of our community. But sometimes even good people make bad decisions. The walking trail fits into that category in my opinion.
Maybe the current council members have long forgotten our bike trails throughout the community. But useless never goes away. That describes the bike trails.
Regardless of the funds' origin, these funds - I believe - could have served many more important projects and transportation needs in our community. And I'll bet the kitchen sink that time proves me right on this issue.
Maybe the Council could do a better job of selling this proposal. Maybe they could explain just who will make use of this lengthy walking trail and why it is more important than some other need within our community. But I suspect their argument would fall on deaf ears. And the sounds coming from the coffee shops are laughter. That is never a good sign.
I don't want to beat up on the City Council because I know each individual and I respect each without reservation. There have been past councils where those words would not ring true. But beginning with an extremely pro-active mayor, we have an excellent group of individuals who represent our community. My fear is that the respect for this Council and the actions they are taking will be diminished by what is perceived to be a folly of a project. Yuppie communities may yearn for walking trails but, if we're talking about transportation funds, we need less potholes, improved drainage and safer streets. A walking trail falls far down the list of priorities. It reminds me of a Homeland Security fence around our airport to help prevent terrorism. Exactly who is kidding who?
A walking trail will most certainly not be the ruination of our community. But when we struggle each and every day with housing issues, a lack of jobs and some mighty expensive other needs, a walking trail just doesn't register. I've heard the city arguments in favor of this walking trail but I still disagree. The greatest problem is not a foolish expenditure of precious tax dollars. The greatest problem is the public's perception of this as yet another wasted effort. It will take time to rebuild the confidence and admiration of city hall because of this decision. And that's time we can ill afford.