Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Editorial: It's time to be giving thought to the future of Longview

Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:44 p.m.

City Councilman Ed Moore had a meeting with constituents this week as part of the regular cycle of meetings by all Longview council members. As is common, not that many people attended — though we have learned that those who do often have a great interest in city government.

At one point, Moore tried to nudge from them some comments concerning what projects should be included as part of a possible city bond election being eyed for November.

He got no response beyond pleasant smiles.

We suppose smiles are better than throwing stones. But it would be nice to see residents taking a strong interest in the possible projects, all of which have the potential of changing the face of our city as it works toward goals identified through the recent comprehensive plan process.

And the decisions should not be made only by city staff and elected officials.

While bonds totaling upwards of $150 million would not cause an increase in taxes, the bonds would still be paid for out of taxes that must come from the pockets of Longview residents. That alone should be enough reason to care about what the city is considering to put on the ballot.

City Council members and officials want to know, too. Not one of them wants to suggest selling bonds for a project the voters do not want or need.

Several of the proposed projects — indeed, those with the highest cost — deal directly with public safety, which ought to be a concern of all residents.

One suggestion by city staff is that Fire Stations 5, 7 and 8 be updated and expanded by 6,200 square feet. Another possibility is that Station 8 would be moved farther north and east because of growth in that direction.

Another big-ticket item is a police department complex to replace the current headquarters, at a cost of about $26 million. There's little doubt that the police department is bursting at the seams, but the question is whether voters would be strongly supportive of solving the problem.

Yet another public safety issue is the construction of a police and fire training center.

Then there are the possible streets improvement issues, which total almost $51 million and include projects across the city, including adding sidewalks.

Parks and recreation projects also are being suggested, including completing the master plan for Lear Park, which would add two more softball fields, two baseball fields and a number of other amenities.

All told, the park project possibilities would cost about $36 million.

As you can see, these are not tiny or inexpensive matters and they need significant input from citizens. If you have not yet begun to think about them, this is the time to do so. November is not so far away, and what happens then could have a huge impact on the future of our city.



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