Something relatively unprecedented occured in Warren City Council Chambers the other evening; councilmen turned down an offer of state money to study parks and open spaces usage in the city.
The $40,000 would have been matched by city funds, of course.
The study would have been done by experts in urban green space and would have been able to produce a scientific analysis of public usage, economic viability, and, we're sure, a whole basket-load of other information that would be just the thing to ward off insomnia.
Instead of what has become a knee-jerk among local public officials when higher levels of government come bearing gifts, Warren's councilmen thought for a moment and said, 'thanks, but no thanks.'
What, you say? Turning down free money for something the council and its administration have been batting around for weeks and months.
Yes, indeed, and we applaud them for it.
There comes a time when governments at all levels need to take a moment and apply some perspective to the issues that face them.
Yes, in an effort to be as frugal as possible, the city needs to take a look at all aspects of its expenses, including the maintenance of parks and playgrounds that may be under-utilized and whether the level of use or the facilities' instrinsic value justifies the expense. In the process it should look outside the box for innovative sources of revenue or services that might take up the slack for those facilities that don't seem to meet the criteria.
Do the taxpayers really need to hire a consultant for $80,000 to undertake that effort?
We think not.
It has sometimes been quipped that an expert is someone who lives at least 50 miles away. We believe that Council, with help from the community, can prioritize and look for those innovative solutions.