Letters to the Editor

‘Wellness’ walks

December 13, 2009

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To the editor:

The idea of getting into an SUV and driving to a “wellness” center makes no sense. Why not transform our local neighborhoods into wellness centers at far less expense? While a glitzy new sports center might impress some visitors, our many neglected neighborhoods reveal a far less attractive side of town. Let’s improve the wellness infrastructure that we have before we plow scarce tax dollars into the western fringes of town.

Consider a child who lives in the area south of 23rd and east of Iowa. If “Sue” needs to walk to Schwegler School she will have to cross 23rd at Ousdahl. If she wants to walk to Holcom Park, she will have to cross Iowa on 25th. I would certainly be reluctant to let a third-grader walk to either of those destinations. Sue’s only alternative is to stay home and play video games. She will never have the opportunity to use a “wellness” center at the western edge of town on a regular basis.

We can construct wellness centers around each school that encourage children to walk or bicycle. It would be a simple matter to build a Pinckney-type underpass that Sue could use to walk or ride to Schwegler or Holcom. The Safe Routes to Schools initiative encourages children and adults to take responsibility for their own wellness. I would prefer to see our tax dollars invested for the health and safety of all children rather than see a few children driven around town all day in SUVs.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

That's all well and good, Clifton, but only a glitzy new fitness center/sports complex on the west fringe will become a selling point for all the unsellable houses on the overbuilt west side. (Although closing all the grade schools on the east side would be a big help, too.)

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/18/free_lunch_how_the_wealthiest_americans

Lawrence Taxpaying Voters should weed out the city hall “Free Lunch” program:

Here’s what happens. And this is a good example of where the news media hasn’t done a good job. I have tons of news clips that say, oh, this new shopping mall is coming or a new Wal-Mart or a new Cabela’s store, and thanks to tax increment financing, this store is going to be built. Well, what is tax increment financing?

I’ll tell you what it is. You go to the store with your goods, you pay for it at Wal-Mart, and there’s a very good chance that that store has made a deal with the government that the sales taxes you are required to pay, that government requires you to pay, never go to the government. Instead, those sales taxes are kept by Wal-Mart and used to pay the cost of the store. And typically in those deals, the store is tax exempt, just like a church.

Now, there are two ways that it’s important to think about this. One is, that means your kid’s schools, your police department, your library, your parks are not getting that money. And you’ll notice we keep saying we’re starved for money. We’re twice as wealthy as we were in 1980, but we’ve got to close hospitals, and we’ve got to close schools, and we don’t have money for all sorts of things like after-school programs, even though we’re twice as wealthy.

The second thing to think about is, imagine that you own Amy Goodman’s or Juan’s department store across the street. You suddenly have to compete with people whom the government is giving a huge leg up on. You think you would go broke after a while? Well, in fact, you will.

And I tell about a man named Jim Weaknecht who owned a little store in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. He sold fishing tackle, hunting gear, stuff like that. And the way he made his living in his little tiny store, enough that he was able to have his wife stay at home and raise their three kids full time, was by charging less than a company called Cabela’s. Well, then Cabela’s came to town. This little city of 4,000 people made a deal to give Cabela’s $36 million to build a store. That’s more than the city budget for that town for ten years. It’s $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in that town to have this store. And even though he charged lower prices, he was pretty quickly run out of business.

That’s not market capitalism, which is what Ronald Reagan said he was going to bring us. He said, you know, government’s the problem, we need markets as a solution. Well, that’s not the market. That’s corporate socialism.

And what we’ve gotten is corporate socialism for the politically connected rich—not all the rich, the politically connected rich—and market capitalism for everybody else.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Building pedestrian bridges would likely cost less than an underpass. The concept is right on the money.

Anyway let's keep outdoor sports outdoors. And use local public school grounds and vacant outdoor park space aka making use of existing resources.

If the city can afford to build high dollar buildings that in fact do increase taxes why not improve sidewalks throughout the city which might increase property values legitimately?

bearded_gnome 5 years, 8 months ago

very poorly written letter. is this about wellness especially for the kids? or, is it about walking to school and safety of kids? or is it just about class warfare?

instead of a ped tunnel, how 'bout just fixing the streets?

a lot of those $s Merrill and the traffic safety commish have put into roundabouts, speed cushions, speed pillows, etc., instead could build good sidewalks and fix the streets.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"very poorly written letter."

No, just poor reading skills on your part-- or do you just not like his proposals, so you're playing dumb?

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