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A solution to live with
Feb 27, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck
There was disagreement on how to enhance the North Federal rebuild, but the city did well
What's the sure sign that government leaders have passed a bill, enacted an ordinance, or instituted a policy pretty much the way they were supposed to?
When nobody is completely happy with it.
Usually, though, it's the best we can do. The City of Riverton's decision on what added features to pursue in enhancing the basic work of the coming rebuild of North Federal Boulevard paints the picture clearly.
Talk to anyone experienced in matters of government, and you'll hear a person who has learned that trying to please people through government is a losing proposition.
Yes, some voters will like some things that you do, but not everyone. Some voters will hate some things that you do, but not all of them. Most of the time, they will be accepting -- not overjoyed, not hostile, but accepting.
In the case of the North Federal enhancements, some in city government wanted to mimic the work done on Main Street when it was rebuilt in 2004. Trees, planters, medians, benches, ornamented sidewalks, decorative lighting -- all were on the drawing board.
Others favored the most utilitarian approach possible. This is a commercial/industrial district, they said. Let the State of Wyoming do what it needs to do on the road, then install basic, functional curbs, gutters, sidewalks and light poles, while spending as little as possible. Period.
What we got was something in between, and most Riverton voters can live with what the mayor and city council have decided to do.
There will be some fancy light poles to match the ones downtown and in City Park, but they will stop at the East Sunset intersection, just as the lights installed downtown don't go up the hill to West Main.
There won't be any trees planted as part of the rebuild, but the basic infrastructure for a drip irrigation system will be put in place so that if, in the future, we decide to plant trees or shrubs, it will be easier to accomplish.
No decorative benches, planters or waste receptacles will be installed at the beginning, but nothing about the general layout of the project would prohibit that in the future.
All of this depends on available funding, and the city intends to seek grant money to accomplish most of it. There's a chance that enough grants won't be found to cover it all, and there's also a chance that extra grant funding might turn up to permit a bit more in the way of enhancement and beautification.
All in all, the city has gone about its business pretty well on this issue. There have been public hearings with ample time to hear the opinions and ideas of voters. Those on the fringes will find room to complain the city is doing too much or not enough, but that's what they always do.
Most of us can accept the proposition, knowing that it isn't perfect, but it's fair.
One last thing: Let's adopt the same approach to the vacant lot owned by the city at the northwest corner of East Main and Fifth East streets downtown. Let's do better than a dirt parking lot, and if we can't find money or consensus right now on what more to do with it, let's not lock the property up into a rigid concept that won't allow for change in the future.
We might not love it, but we can accept it. In local government, that's not just half the battle. It's most of it.