Letter to the Editor

Reader shares different view of Brooks presentation and the downtown plan

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hi Ms. Bennett,

I read your letter to the editor (8/1/18) regarding the Roger Brooks webinar and was hoping I might offer an alternate point of view. First, I’m sorry you were disappointed there were no artist-renderings of what Mountain Home could look like but it’s important to remember what this event was about. It was about giving the community access to an expert who heavily influenced the City’s Downtown Plan. It was about addressing the false claim the City drastically departed from Mr. Brooks’ original assessment. It was about getting questions answered directly from the source. It was NOT another unveiling.

The reason Mr. Brooks showed pictures of other cities was twofold. First, they were places that underwent similar revitalization projects where nearly identical public concerns were raised. The pictures were presented in a “before and after” format where Mr. Brooks was able explain how the concerns raised were unfounded and why he believed that would be the case here as well.

Secondly, the pictures were intended to spark imaginations and get people thinking about our city’s potential. It’s the same reason WECRD released a stock photo of an indoor pool when they announced they’d be pursing their own indoor pool project.

Mr. Brooks never advocated using rain barrels. If you watch the Q&A video at the 39:57 mark you’ll hear that when Mr. Brooks was asked if the City could provide the water necessary to maintain the proposed landscaping he responded, “That is a question I can’t answer. It’s a good question.” He then goes on to explain that other Cities have mitigated water usage by doing things such as using indigenous plants, using recycled water or installing rain barrels. He never suggests it’s appropriate in our case; that’s a question for City leadership.

Lastly, I wanted to address your idea that a more practical approach to revitalization is to spend money fixing buildings and hiring interior design experts. I’ve heard this argument several times and think it’s an unrealistic expectation. The City cannot just give taxpayer money to private, for-profit businesses. That’s illegal. Nor can the City apply for grants on behalf of a private, for-profit businesses. They have to do that themselves.

Can you imagine the outrage if the City just gave Walmart our tax dollars to fix up their façade? Can you honestly imagine how the conversation would go if Mayor Sykes walked into the Dilly Deli and introduced the owner to the decorator he just hired to redesign the building’s interior?

I’m sorry but I think building décor, maintenance and improvement is strictly an owner responsibility and should not burden taxpayers. Sidewalks, streets and bike lanes, however, are public domain and are within the City’s area of responsibility so the use of tax/grant money is appropriate.

I truly hope this letter is received as it was intended, as an alternate perspective and nothing more. I offer this dissent simply to show that there are people out there in favor of the Downtown Plan.

Vince Cardarelle

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