Between The Lines

            Recent news out of Newark Ohio is the dedication of the recently built Sharon Valley fire station (Newark officials anticipate lives saved with reduced response times from new firehouse Michaela Sumner, Newark Advocate, 10-20-20). Also in the news, same day, was the projected expansion of bike paths, etc. (Transportation plan would extend bike paths, add sidewalks Kent Mallett Newark Advocate). The two stories share a lot in common and inform between-the-line readers of political priorities. Though the fire house story is primarily good times are to be had, the fire station originally started out much as the bike path story. It was projected. Then rapidly built. Both projected desires rely on leveraging and/or spending other people’s money (“The Granville Road path is being designed now and expected to be completed in 2023 or 2024. The cost of the path extension project is about $500,000, with the city paying 20% and Licking County Area Transportation Study paying 80%.” “[Newark Division of Fire Chief Patrick] Connor noted a new ambulance was purchased through CARES Act funding, and the fire engine is new to the city.”). Leveraging and spending other people’s money is, well, pretty much the American way. Privately, one needs only look at the enormous amount of debt carried by average Americans to witness leveraging and spending other people’s money. Most people buy as much house as their down payment will leverage.  In country and western speak it is “having everything that me and the bank would own.” Publicly, it is how roads get paved, buildings built or remodeled, downtown squares updated. There is a downside – “As the conversation about adding a new fire station in Newark has increased in recent years, so did concerns about how the city would increase staffing and equipment to cover a new firehouse.” Running the darn thing and maintaining it cannot be leveraged. But what gets leveraged, and what is shelved as a pipe dream “we cannot afford” by civic leaders? The between-the-lines answer would include the low barrier shelter at 200 E. Main St. (projected at about the same time as the fire station) as well as fixed route/schedule public transportation within the same region that LCATS is funding bike paths and sidewalks. The political priorities announced by the opening of a fire station, located in an area ripe for development, and bike paths, to and fro that area, is loud and clear – “We don’t want the homeless to have a home in Newark, nor a ways to get around for those unable to purchase (and maintain) an automobile.”

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