Roads plan is good, but shouldn’t stop there

Published 5:47 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

We were happy to report this week that the city council approved some much-needed repairs to several streets in town.

We understand there are numerous residential areas in town that also need work, but we agree with Mayor Wendy Perrette that traffic-heavy corridors and especially those important to businesses and development should be a priority. The fact is, business development helps drive our local economy. Businesses employ residents, they offer goods and services and they help generate much-needed tax revenue for the city. When we grow our business sector, we will grow our revenue base, which in turn means we will have more money to spend on things like roads.

But that said, Councilman Brian McCree made a good point when he pointed out that perhaps in the future the city could, instead of bundling road repairs largely inside a single district, spread the repairs out to include all districts.

The city has been unfairly criticized for using race as a determining factor for road repairs, but it is clear that there are busy roads in other areas of the city that need fixing. Spreading out the repairs could be an effective way of satisfying the public and it wouldn’t necessarily thwart the mayor’s proposed vision.

Finally, Martin Luther King Drive is in terrible disrepair. We realize the price to fix the street is high, if sewer and water repairs are added to the price tag as they should be. It is also true that the street does not draw heavy traffic.

But the street is important to a number of businesses there as well as residents in the area. Further, it seems that when the city scraped the blacktop off the street, it opened up more potholes. For that reason alone, the city ought to look at correcting the situation.

Perrette is right when she points out the city can’t afford to fix Martin Luther King now. But there should be a path forward presented to the board, complete with some funding possibilities. Often the city budget is compared to a household budget. To continue that analogy, a cash-strapped homeowner with a badly leaking roof might not be able to afford a new roof today, but he or she would be wise to figure out a way to pay for it sooner rather than later.

We urge the city to come up with such a plan for Martin Luther King. If the city can do this, we hope residents and business owners will give the city the time and patience necessary for repairs.