Given the current state of our city’s financial affairs, our city should operate within the realms of practicality.
Unfortunately, the craziest ideas always appear at the top of our public officials’ to do lists – probably because they make great campaigning fodder – while the ones that would actually bring great change get pushed to the bottom.
At a recent public meeting about the current state of our Marion parks, citizens met with leaders to make a list of “pros and cons” while also sharing ideas to create a five-year plan for the parks department.
Based on the 1.5-hour discussion, a general theme emerged: The parks department does great for wealthier people while our lower-income families are neglected.
While it wasn’t addressed directly at the meeting, some critical thinking about the pros and cons list created supports that claim.
A majority of the “good things” said about our parks revolved around how Matter Park is a “jewel” and “centerpiece” of our community. The Marion Splash House took second place in the discussion, and the multi-use trails took third place.
When it came time to talk about the parks department shortcomings, citizens most often complained that all of the parks outside of Matter Park are outdated, falling apart and few-and-far-between.
A simple drive around the city confirms this. Outside of Matter Park, some smaller parks don’t even have basketball nets and look like they haven’t been touched since the ’50s.
At-large councilman Brad Luzadder even admitted that two of our more impoverished wards have been neglected by the city for years. It’s good to see at least someone isn’t afraid to call it like it is.
Excluding the trail system, people also complained about the lack of sidewalks and ways to get to any public parks, especially Matter Park.
It was during this discussion where the best idea of the night came to light. Someone suggested that the city add a public bus stop to Matter Park, but the idea didn’t get the attention it deserved.
Shockingly – or not shockingly – the idea was criticized.
Mayor Jess Alumbaugh said he would look into it, but mentioned he was worried that adding a bus route would increase the likelihood for vandalism, to which a parks department employee agreed.
When asked about what ideas piqued his interest at the end of the meeting, Alumbaugh said he liked the idea about using technology to attract kids to use the walkway and parks.
While the idea sounds great, developing a mobile application isn’t practical. Adding a stop to a bus route that is less than a mile away from the current route is practical.
When we step back and think about where most of our tax dollars go regarding public spaces, a majority of the money is spent on Matter Park and the Splash House, yet both of those places are not fully accessible to all citizens.
It’s not right that everyone is paying taxes to maintain these Marion staples and yet low-income families don’t get to enjoy them because of financial barriers.
We need to address the elephant in the room: Money being spent by our government isn’t being spent enough to lift people from poverty.
Our public officials need to do more for low-income families in Marion. For far too long, our public officials have continued to give tax breaks to corporate companies and owners with private jets while low-income families suffer.
The problem our city faces is not solely the fault of our current administration. If fact, this administration is bringing citizens to the table. This administration is making an actual effort to get us involved to bring these situations to light.
Let’s encourage our leaders to focus on making small tweaks that have large impacts for our quality of life – all of us.