Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Example of Why “Anger” Has Become An Elixir For Governance

In stark contrast to that area of town in general, grass grew taller and taller for weeks at a house that was for sale at the entrance to Rockwood Park, but fortunately before it became a poster child for the now well documented “broken windows theory”, either the previous owners, the real estate agency or an annoyed neighbor mowed the lawn.

This apparently isn’t the philosophy of City Parks and Recreation or its mowing contractor. Even while trendy parks are opened, the turf in other parks has evaporated over the years from neglect even as their use has increased. Now, maybe to cover the neglect, the decision has apparently been made to mow only a portion of each park, allowing grass to go fallow making them virtually useless.BUMSTEER

Poor decision, poor management, another victim of deferred maintenance and, where the buck always stops, poor governance.

Residents are given prompt citations, and should be, if they don’t take care to keep the city-owned right-of-way as well kept as their own property. Right-of-Way is the strip that runs between the street and private property, sometimes dissected by a sidewalk.

It’s also where “curb appeal” and resultant property values begin.

So residents are right to be indignant and demoralized, as my neighbors and many commuting to use the park are, that the City is so cavalier with its own upkeep including but not limited to the responsibility to keep recreational parkland not only mowed but free of limbs and weeds and well, recreational.

Unkempt areas attract not only litter but snakes and other vermin and bring them closer to residences and businesses, but they also are proven to provide a sort of psychological screen for minor crime, typically theft and quick to follow is major crime.

It doesn’t stop there. As well as eroding property values, unkempt areas, especially in urban settings, threaten public health, retard economic development and more. Nature areas have an important place but urban parks, adjacent to dwellings should be well kept. It takes much more than leaving the grass to grow wild to convert a recreational park into a nature area or convert it to a natural buffer.

Is the failure to maintain the roof on the picnic shelter or the cook-out grills also part of going back to nature?

It is terrific that reserves are being refunded for deferred maintenance of streets but Durham’s elected officials and public servants are being thick as a board on the importance of appearance overall, even if as one official quipped, “no one is calling to yell at them about it.”

Oh yeah, that’s why we elect people to govern our community, so they can sit by the phone keeping tabs on who gets angry enough to call them out. That’s just dysfunctional.

You want to know what gives government a poor image…just this kind of neglect and double standard. Government upkeep should set the example and begin with appearance and curb appeal, the most visible things residents can see.

Believe me, elected officials and administrators are not ignorant to how important this is…they’ve been shown scientific evidence as well as public opinion support time and time again…so when will they get it? When will someone step up and show leadership on this issue?

I guess when we all drop the unimportant lives we’re leading and get angry enough to call and tell them to get off their butt? Maybe its time to dust off the ole’ B.S.-O-Meter very effectively deployed in a former life to humorously shed light on condescension toward Durham, but this time B.S. won’t be Bum Steer and the “Bums” may be local.

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