For anyone who has ever thought they’d like to influence the folks at city hall, now is the time speak up.
The 2013 election season has started in earnest. Candidates have already knocked on our front door and asked for our votes. While they are campaigning is probably the time when candidates are motivated to listen to your views on those things that aldermen can influence.
I have to tell you . . . I believe that candidates, like the rest of us, are by and large honest about their opinions on city government. A candidate may withhold, may not bring up a subject that they think would reveal a particular bias. But I think most people are comfortable with their own take on current events and that is where voters with particular worries or opinions can affect the future of the city.
I have my own dream list of what I’d like to see happen in the community in the near future.
I’d like to see the city buy the Brundick farm and complete the Pacific River Walk trails park along the Meramec River. I’d like for the park to connect with St. Louis County parks on the east and extend to Shaw Nature Reserve on the west. For that matter, I’d like to see the park board follow through with plans to create a walking trail along Brush Creek from Liberty Field to the city park. These are assets in our community that we can exploit for the greater good.
I’d like to see a welcome center that provides information about the community to visitors, new residents, new business operators and people who might become visitors, residents or business operators. Our welcome center committee demonstrated that Pacific is in the eye of a whirlwind of recreational, educational and cultural tourism destinations. These are assets that we can exploit.
I’d like to see a community center where activities for young people could take place — live theater, teen dances, game rooms and the like. There’s talk that this could be done at the location of the city swimming pool, which is in need of a thorough rehab or rebuild. Other communities are floating bond issues to build community centers and one demographics specialist recently told the school board that it would revive the community as a good place for families.
I’d like to see real public input in the process of creating a new master plan for the city. Officials have said they plan to hold public meetings to hear what citizens want in the future. I want to see that happen. The way things stand now aldermen make their decisions based on their personal view of the city. Planning commissioners make their decisions based on their personal view of individual projects brought before them. Park board members make their decisions based on what they think should take place in the park.
In the view of this reporter, all these officials, elected and appointed, act based on their confidence in their own ability to know what is best for the city. The citizens usually don’t get involved in city hall until they want something or until something goes wrong. If we’re going to have public meetings, now is the time to tell officials what we want to see in our neighborhoods, on our streets and sidewalks.
This might seem far-fetched, but I’d like to see every other vintage streetlight on First Street taken out and moved farther south, extending the string of lights all the way to Orleans Street.
Now that the McHugh-Dailey opera house is set to open, I’d like to see the Pacific Arts Alive group reactivated and see the Joe McHugh one-man show organized. We talked about this in the past. There are examples of McHugh’s sculpture, sketches, oil paintings and watercolors all over the community and all over the region. It would be great to bring them back to that grand space in the building where some of them were created when McHugh had the space to himself as a studio.
Candidates undoubtedly have their opinions about all these things. However, if enough people talk about an issue that could impact the community in the future — “Let’s build a community center” — they might soon begin to think it’s their own idea.
Not to sound too preachy, saying that voters need to or ought to talk to candidates about the future before they’re elected — but it’s an avenue. And the time is right.
Pauline Masson can be reached at 314-805-9800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.