Dollars and sense

Dear Editor,

As the old adage says, “Strike while the iron’s hot,” so here it goes.

There are two things I ask myself when I hear City Council (or any governing body for that matter) is voting on something: “How many dollars will it cost and does it make sense?” More often than not, I find myself thinking that it costs way too many dollars and makes very little sense.

That brings me to the “iron,” the infamous roundabout. Let’s address dollars first.

In a Warren Times Observer article from 10/16/18, there was reference made to $30,000-$50,000 being needed for repairs within five or six years by Director of DPW Mike Holtz. He said, “Traditionally, (traffic) lights have been the cost of the monthly electric bill and that’s about it,” Holtz was also quoted. I personally have a feeling even $30,000 would pay the electric bills for the light polls at the intersection for quite some time. PennDOT says they’ll maintain the truck apron though. Wow, what a concession. The City of Warren will be responsible for all of the costs associated with any repairs needed under the surface of the intersection. While I was taught not to judge a book by its cover, I do not want to see what is underneath that intersection.

Now let’s address sense.

In a WTO article from 9/28/18, PennDOT referenced data from roundabouts all over PA, specifically referencing one in Waterford, PA that is at the intersection of State Route 19 and State Route 97. Those are major highways outside of downtown Waterford. Ours would be at the heart of downtown. The only roundabout/traffic circle that comes to mind at the heart of a city is Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. We are not Washington, DC. Further, in the same article PennDot says, “Although roundabouts are safer and typically more efficient than traditional signalized intersections, in many cases they may not be the best option due to topography or other reasons, such as property impacts, capacity issues, and proximity to other intersections.” PennDOT’s words, not mine. I believe that the intersection at Pennsylvania Ave and Liberty St. was referenced in a previous article as being an issue if this roundabout were to implement, and I couldn’t agree more.

Maybe I’ve lost some of that naivety I briefly experienced in my collegiate days and I’ve become cynical in my old age but… Change for the sake of change doesn’t make sense to me. I’m all for new ideas and getting our college graduates back here, but if even one reason they want to come back is that we have a trendy roundabout, I’d rather them stay put.

It’s time to offer temporary city, county, and school tax breaks to any business that opens its doors in the City of Warren. It’s time to focus on curtailing what seems to be an insurmountable opioid epidemic in this city and county. It’s time to focus on the education of our youth. It’s time to focus on infrastructure projects that aren’t going to negatively affect businesses operating in the city. It’s time for a dollars-and-sense city councilman.

Stay tuned,

Christian Zavinski,