Will board ever lead on recreation?

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Call me pessimistic or cynical, but I’ve simply been waiting for the Adams County Board of Supervisors to poo-poo the latest, well-planned good idea for our community.

Despite a few politically-placed comments in support of recreation uttered by a few supervisors during the last year, I hung on to my doubts that the majority of the current board would never vote to fund the project.

Hopefully I’ll still be proven wrong in the months to come, but it seemed the wheels to put the kibosh on a recreation complex started spinning Monday.

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Faced with a pre-outlined deadline to make a move toward funding the project, the supervisors decided this week to delay their talks for at least a month, maybe more.

Their reasons? Well, they rattled off several excuses, all of which boiled down to spending money they don’t want to spend.

One option the group proposed was to put the issue to a public vote, again.

Several years ago, 78.54 percent of residents voted in favor of a recreation complex to cost no more than $5.4 million. The price of the complex was included on the ballot.

Now, the board seems to need yet another final “OK” from the public. They are seeking something of a push off the mountain, I guess.

But the board seems to be missing a key part of how our American governmental system works. We, the taxpayers, elect representatives to make decisions for us. That’s why we pay them.

It’s not practical or necessary to poll the public before each big decision. If it were, we wouldn’t need supervisors.

The board knows they don’t need public OK to make a move — they didn’t ask anyone for approval before they took out a multi-million dollar bond and began a road-paving project on certain county roads and not others.

The non-binding recreation referendum that was on the ballot several years ago was simply a move by recreation supporters to show the board that the community did, in fact, want recreation.

Recreation supporters gambled, with confidence, and won when the public overwhelmingly said, “Yes” to a $5.4 million recreation complex.

Now, because some of the board personally wants to say “No,” they are stalling.

The consequences may be shown in yet another generation of Adams County children and in turn in the county as a whole.

It’s a bit depressing to travel to nearby towns of similar size these days. It doesn’t take long to see what a progressive government can do and remember what the guys at home haven’t done.

Much credit and thanks goes to the board of volunteer recreation commissioners who have carried the ball to the end zone.

Unfortunately, they can’t cross the goal line.

If area leaders need a second public approval to score, then let’s do it. Let’s see if the issue can go on an upcoming ballot.

Let’s put it to a vote. Despite the vocal naysayers out there, I believe a well-defined plan to fund a $5.4 million recreation complex would, again, receive the majority of the public’s support.

But this time, make it binding. Take the power from the elected leaders, and let’s run with the ball.

Perhaps trusting elected leaders to make a timely move on the matter was our mistake. Support of such a project takes forward thinking and willingness to bend.

Ultimately, the future of recreation in our community is up to the public, so gear up.

It’s game time.

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.