Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Milestone Of Sorts

The first of September marks a year and a half to the day since that snowstorm closed Fire Station No. 6 (549 days by my calculation, based on a quick glance at the calendar). It also marks five weeks to the day (35 days) since the J&J Chemical Company fire resulted in runoff contaminating Trail Creek and the Oconee River (and the inevitable lawsuit). And yes, I still think that a good argument that the two events are related. No, not in a causal sense, but related nonetheless.

After almost fifteen months of bureaucratic delay, demolition of the station's original engine bay commenced during the last week of May. The exterior walls of the new engine bay are now complete (structurally at least, some needless decorative work remains) and the metal supports for the new roof are in place. Even so, much remains to be done for the station to become operational again.

To my mind, this debacle has been a case study in progressive government at both the local and federal levels. By that I mean rather than simply rebuilding Fire Station No. 6 in a functional, utilitarian manner using the insurance settlement and the Unified Government’s own money, City Hall sought to construct a needlessly elaborate structure using “free” dollars dispensed Washington. Of course, the “stimulus fund,” ostensibly intended for “shovel ready” projects proved nothing of the sort. It was (and since more than half of the money has yet to be spent, remains) nothing more than an Obama Administration political slush fund. Once the grant was denied, City Hall began reconstruction of the station using the insurance settlement and its own money – just like it should have done in the first place – but only after some fifteen months of needless delay.

The Unified Government’s strategy failed all the way around – but such is the nature of “progressive” government. Get used to it.

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