By George “Bud” Scholl, Mayor
(Sunday, June 4, 2017) – Recently I attended a meeting of residents from a condominium building where we were asking for permission to build a pedestrian bridge on the edge of their property. It was a tough meeting where the residents expressed their strong desire to not have the bridge pedestal near their complex. They cited several compelling reasons why they thought the bridge should not be built where proposed. The City Manager and I took turns explaining the benefits to pedestrian safety, the large number of accidents that had occurred, and the way traffic engineers could modify the intersection after the bridge is built to make it better for pedestrians and vehicles. The residents were not happy and some of them told me that they had voted for me and that they expect me not to support something that they believe would be detrimental to their interests.
Here lies the difficulty of responding to the needs of the community while trying to balance the concerns of a specific group of residents. We are all very passionate about where we live and how we are affected by those project closes to us. In a small community like ours, there are decisions to be made that may upset some group of passionate residents. What I have often seen is that this passion often overrides compelling data and planning put together by outside professionals who are experts in their fields. When we couple this with the publics’ general skepticism of government, a difficult dynamic occurs that often falls to the Mayor and Commission to resolve.
Frankly, I believe these types of decisions are what we get elected to make. We must determine the tradeoffs of upsetting one group of residents for what we believe, based on expert opinion, is the best solution and for the benefit of the community at large. Then we must deal with the consequences of the outcomes of those decisions. These situations require a lot of analysis and thoughtful consideration. We have not come to a resolution on the pedestrian bridge yet, however I can assure you that when faced with such tradeoffs, we take the decision very seriously, create transparent processes and directly deal with the outcomes.