The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
As I read about the efforts of Warrensburg Main Street, Inc. to establish a Community Improvement District, I can’t help but think about an old saying about carts and horses. Horses are good at pulling things, but you don’t see them doing much pushing. In this case, the cart is the proposed $2 per $100 assessment on central business district properties and the horse represents what needs to be done to make downtown Warrensburg a vibrant hub for the community.
Now, in a normal situation, there would have been serious brainstorming on priorities, with public participation and comment invited. The laws would have been thoroughly researched, the city council would have been involved, and the method of governing the entity that administers the funds would have been settled. Then, priorities would have been set, costs would have been estimated, and a budget developed. Then, the assessment required to meet these priorities would have been calculated; if thought excessive, the priority list and proposed assessment would be pared down to an acceptable level.
What Main Street apparently did was to come up with a dollar amount first, then start holding work sessions to develop a brochure to sell the project. The priorities hadn’t been set, public input hadn’t been invited, and a budget, required for a valid petition, hadn’t been developed. When property owners and businesses found out about the project they started chewing up district backers like a horse tethered behind a wagonload of grain. Like that horse, the whole project is likely to founder.
It seems to me that the C.I.D. backers are starting to realize their error and move the horse to the front of the cart. Their problem now is that the cart may be so deeply mired in the negative perceptions fostered by their own mistakes (not “misinformation” as claimed in recent meetings) that they’ll need a really strong horse to get things rolling.
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