Hurricanes don't wait for city leaders
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Hurricanes and dangerous stormwater don’t wait around for elected officials to produce expensive studies for the shelf, kick crises down the road, and ponder political calculations. Greenville has a documented $350 million stormwater infrastructure challenge to avoid dangerous flooding. Dilly dallying around only increases that cost, threatens safety and property, dampens business recruitment, and, did I say, threatens our safety.
Big, expensive challenges can be met in ways timely and fair to all citizens. But, it takes elected officials who aren’t in anybody’s pocket and who step up with creativity, courage, and the common good at heart.
We can handle “gorilla” challenges, which stormwater certainly is. To pick one example I know intimately, several of us worked “across the aisle” through hard choices, creative problem solving, and real long-range planning to avert the OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefit) crisis, which due to actuarial trends and increasing cost of health care, could have bankrupted our city, as it has others. The OPEB "gorilla" is under control as long as city councils maintain the program we put in place several years ago.
As with most crises, immediate steps are needed and then sustainable programs put in place long-term. Regarding stormwater, the Town Creek Culvert project, now unfolding, was put in place while I served on council. We creatively funded it using a state loan saving city taxpayers tons of money. Fixing the culvert is easy compared to the massive citywide stream stabilization, culvert improvement, retention ponds, passage of ordinances with teeth to implement the Horizons Land Use Plan, and all the rest needed to address stormwater and the threat of hurricanes.
None of this matters to hurricanes and dangerous stormwater. They just do their job. We must do ours and have elected officials who do theirs.