10/02/11 — Get serious: For city officials, now is the time to start laying out plans for Goldsboro

View Archive

Get serious: For city officials, now is the time to start laying out plans for Goldsboro

Soon it is going to be time to talk -- again -- about money, budgets and the future in Goldsboro.

And once again, there will be questions -- questions about priorities, costs and decision-making, not to mention questions for those charged with making those decisions.

There is much to consider as the community prepares for the end of another calendar year -- and much to review as it makes plans for 2012.

First on that list should be the newly acquired Arts Council of Wayne County building.

City officials were in such an all-fired hurry to acquire this structure and to chase down a grant to build an Arts Council office downtown that they seemed to ignore cautions and concerns from multitudes of city residents.

They had a plan and a vision, they said, one that would bring tourism and future interest to Goldsboro. They chastised those who brought up concerns about the decision, indicating that we were at the very least anti-progress and at the worst, anti-Goldsboro.

They preached the need for action and suggested that time was of the essence. They explained how this move -- and the grant that was coming for the Arts Council's downtown offices and gallery -- would be a tremendous move forward for the city.

And now that they have made their decision and spent the city's money, what was a frenzied fight for votes and support has dulled to no action, no discussion and, quite simply, nothing more than crickets.

There are probably more than a few reasons for the silence from those who pushed the Air Force museum move.

First, the economy is not the best, and reasonable officials in communities with vision and a sense of responsibility simply do not take on discretionary spending when it is not necessary. Perhaps there might be, if not buyer's remorse, a little buyer's caution.

The second reason, and probably the more likely one, is that when you ignore large numbers of your citizens to do what you want to do anyway, you have to do some fence-mending.

But here's the bottom line: We are stuck with the Arts Council building. That deal is done.

What needs to happen now is that the City Council needs to stick to its word and begin what should be a public process to give the museum project a look-see and to create a committee with some real knowledge to start figuring out what it would take to make it a reality.

And while they are at it, they need to make sure the community has regular reports on what is going on with the grants that the city has taken on for the Arts Council's move and the refurbishment of some downtown space into an artists' area. This is a project that must create jobs, and it is up to the city to make sure that it does -- and that the taxpayers' money has been invested responsibly.

There are other issues that are going to require attention -- the streetscape project (word is it might cost more than projected) and the continuing concern of how to keep businesses thriving downtown. And let's not forget the depot and rail project or the continuing questions involving annexation.

Goldsboro needs to get serious about plans, not just wish lists, and it needs to figure out what its priorities will be when the calendar year changes.

And one of those better be determining what kind of city we need and where the best place might be to invest our money as we head into the next decade.

Figuring that out requires vision, control and a real understanding that Goldsboro's taxpayers do not only want to have a quality of life, they want to be able to afford to enjoy it.

Published in Editorials on October 2, 2011 12:07 AM