To the editor:
Thanks to Commissioner Amyx and Public Forum contributor Bill Simons for voicing reservations regarding proposed expenditures in Lawrence. The sums are frightening in these iffy economic times. Cities across the country are going belly-up because they’ve spent beyond their means, and state governments are cutting funding for nearly everything.
In particular, I’d like to address the proposed regional recreation center. Lawrence has spent huge sums on athletic facilities: outdoor aquatic center, Free State High pool and sports stadium, Lawrence High stadium, Youth Sports Complex (23 soccer fields, five football fields, four baseball diamonds, practice area), plans in the pipeline for more tennis courts, etc. I’m not suggesting that exercise isn’t important, but funds are limited, and we need to prioritize.
Rising competitors, such as China, are investing newfound wealth in power plants, infrastructure and schools; they’re sending legions of their children abroad to develop second-language skills and become comfortable in international settings. Lawrence is discussing spending $25 million on what is essentially playground equipment. It goes by grand names such as “Regional Recreation Center,” but it really is just very nice, very expensive playground equipment for adults and children. Meanwhile, our infrastructure crumbles and our children trail most of the developed and developing world in test scores, language skills and international experience, limiting their marketability in an increasingly global economy.
Fostering top-notch hobbyist sports players, like fostering excellent computer gamers, is not likely to propel our children — or our country — to economic success. Our children are watching. What values will we impart to them as we set our spending priorities in uncertain, even scary, economic times?