There was another meeting of local grumpy old men. Well, not really a meeting. We ate breakfast. We gathered to discuss things that we’re grumpy about. We didn’t agree on everything, but we mostly got a consensus. We had a couple of new recruits this time, so we tried to go easy on them. Not. We didn’t cut them any slack at all. If you want to hang out with grumpy old men, you have to bring your “A” game and a thick hide.
We talked about the roundabout, even though it’s not officially called a roundabout. It’s officially called a “traffic revision.” That’s the name you give a roundabout when too many people think a roundabout is unnecessary, useless, will cause more problems than it solves, and costs money that would be better spent on buying everybody a couple of beers. If you call it a “traffic revision” it sounds benign and friendly – a cuddly little puppy. You know, a couple of minor changes to reduce the number of fender-benders in front of Monte Square from two in ten years to something more manageable.
We talked about a rest area. For those of you who keep track of such things, there’s a proposal to have a rest area down by the highway, with the idea that it will be the centerpiece of a new commercial area. I’ve never read about growing a city around public restrooms. A gap in my cultural upbringing, I’m sure.
All these grandiose plans are intended to bring people into Montesano to spend their money at Montesano businesses. The notion is that we can increase our downtown commerce by a huge percentage – maybe double or triple – if we can attract more people off the freeway with a pretty roundabout and a rest room.
Where are all those imaginary people going to park? Parking in beautiful downtown Montesano isn’t exactly wide open with the commerce we already have.
On another note, we talked about doing something to improve our access to quality medical care, with the possibility of a medical clinic in town. It could happen. It’s going to require some active interest from the local population, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The way things are, any medical care beyond visiting a doctor requires a trip to Aberdeen or Elma – possibly even Olympia. Be on the lookout for a petition. We can do this.
Then somebody told a dirty joke and the discussion was pretty much over.
My own take on the “traffic revision” and rest area hasn’t changed. I still want to know a few things. You should want to know these things, too:
- What problems are these projects going to fix?
- What’s it going to cost local businesses while they’re being built?
- What’s it going to cost the city to maintain them after they’re built?
- How much additional revenue can the city realistically expect as a result?
- How much will the city have to spend to accommodate any additional traffic/parking?
- Will there be a need for more police? How many? At what cost?
- If you subtract the costs from the benefits, does the city come out ahead?
- How were those values determined?
Just questions that need to be answered. The last question is vitally important. The last numbers I saw had no available data backing them up – like they were pulled out of somebody’s back pocket. A real cost benefit analysis looks way different than what’s been put forward so far. Old men are a lot less grumpy when they get acceptable answers to reasonable questions.
If you’re reading this and it makes sense, forward the link to a friend. Maybe two.