It has been said, “It only takes four votes,” implying the new downtown center is going to be constructed regardless of any opposition to the facility. There is some small hope that reason and common sense can prevail if a rational case can be made for a better use of the money.
To review recent reports and rankings that have been published only serves to remind us we are no longer an All-American city.
That fact suggests it is essential we look for ways to 1) Break the poverty cycle which pervades in our city; 2) Prepare our jobless for a better opportunity to find meaningful employment; 3) Actively seek new industry to our area; and 4) Reduce the superficial need for gangs.
To complain without offering at least some viable solution is simply a waste of energy on everyone’s part. So please accept these suggestions in the manner in which they are intended.
First, to break the poverty cycle demands a better educated populace. Let’s spend the money to increase the local supplemental pay for teachers. Nothing says we have to wait for the state to raise salaries. Wake and Mecklenburg counties have a very high supplemental payment and can draw the best qualified teachers.
Pay an additional supplement to teachers who will go to the lowest-performing schools to teach. And ask the churches to mentor low-performing students.
Let’s provide scholarships to students to attend N.C. Wesleyan College as long as they achieve a C-plus average, and if they don’t, they have to pay the scholarship money back.
This worked very well for the Teaching Fellows program and the Hope Scholarship program. Offer the same type of education program to parents and job training at the community colleges.
As for job creation, purchase the land at the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 64. Create a new interchange, and you are almost guaranteed to recoup your money and actually create a higher tax base.
That will certainly create new jobs.
When Home Depot came to Rocky Mount, the manager told me he had more than 6,000 job applicants to apply for the 126 positions available. He could not fill half of those openings because the applicants could not pass the drug test or the educational requirements.
Let’s put two or three new police precincts in the heaviest crime and drug areas. Offer subsidized housing to police officers to live in those areas. And put more than one police officer living in those areas so they can protect themselves. And a higher pay for police officers and firefighters would help.
To me $45 million to $50 million could be spent in a much more meaningful manner than a civic center in a section of town that long ago died and withered on the vine. I know of no city that has lost its downtown infrastructure that has been revived to its former glory.
At least the suggestions above offer a return on the investment. At least they will help some of our citizens become more active and contributors to society. At least they will be more palatable to the taxpayers who are going to have to pay the bill for a city government bent on creating a money-eating monster.