Hopefully the city police are lenient with indecency charges along Spring Street. After all, the public was told more than a year ago there would be public bathrooms coming to that location.
In October 2016, when the city purchased the former medical offices adjacent to the green space on the corner of Spring and Main they expressed intentions of remodeling for public restrooms. The downtown development authority spent $165,000 for the buildings and property to put the plan in place. The purchase made sense: You have a downtown area and public greenspace without a restroom.
The mayor was quoted as saying he had been in office for 24 years and not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask where’s the bathroom in downtown.
Yet, well over a year later, downtown still does not have a pot to pee in (pardon the cliche). The building’s future is trapped in a planning committee black hole from which nothing can break free.
While budget scrutinizing is always prudent, in this case they are already in for $165,000 so finish the job.
This is a classic case of squandering a resource that government is so often criticized for. Imagine a business buying property, then letting it just sit there? Wouldn’t happen in the private sector where company money versus tax dollars are in the game.
Businesses need to be nimble, while governments can afford to squabble, stall and study some more.
Mayor John Weaver has been critical of the council’s footdragging on the way to the toilets. However, his past record has several ignominious examples of valuable assets sitting dormant.
One of the biggest examples and what could be a real game changer in town is Doris Wigington Park in the Lumber Company Road area. It’s a great wooded property, within walking distance of one of the largest residential areas (Arbor Hills). The city had the foresight to buy it, but apparently lacks the commitment to develop it.
It became an issue in the last council election race when it was called the “raper park.” Our reporting found no serious crime has ever been reported there, but people felt it had a generally creepy feel. Some Progress readers responded to our previous story that they truly enjoyed having the trails (though poorly designed) to themselves and others thought they would use it if the city added basic amenities, like attractive entrances/parking, a few swing sets and maybe a pavilion with picnic tables and restrooms.
Other examples of squandered resources include:
• The green space at the south end of town. It is used – some. Nothing like it should be with creative city/event planning. A green space on the corner of downtown is a home run for any city. Other than a sporadic event or two, we have this great area only intermittently trod by human feet. Imagine the change in atmosphere if you drove by one day and saw kids playing or a family enjoying a sunny afternoon right in downtown? Talk about making Main Street appear more vibrant.
• The old horse ring road to nowhere, behind the Jasper Methodist Church. The original plans were never about traffic. The idea was to expand the downtown area with a new road complete with sidewalks, trees, street lights and parcels where new businesses might want to locate.
• Cart paths – another idea with real potential from the mayor that never got rolling. Connect downtown to the residential areas with some paths suitable for golf carts or walking. This would give Jasper a unique feature and would be, dare we say, progressive.
For the sake of the town, we strongly encourage City Hall to get to it on these valuable projects.