Talladega's proposed splash pad is again on the front page after last Monday's council meeting. If I am correct in my interpretation, all five members of the council support this project. In this election year, to opposed such a project would be virtual political suicide — even though at least some of the council know full well it is ill-conceived and most of all, beyond the capability of the city.
As has been aptly noted, Talladega does not have more than $1 million for this project. While some of the mere handful of proponents point to possible federal grants, they seem to forget that grants require matching city funds, plus there is some question of whether the city could qualify for additional grants with its debt load and current grant status.
This splash pad debate has spilled over into regional and statewide media coverage with a story aired by a Birmingham TV station June 20. Local residents and merchants interviewed on camera expressed some support but concern as well that our council should be focusing on infrastructure and the critical needs for street repair before indebting the city with such a large entertainment expenditure.
While we have heard bold promises addressing street paving and potholes, the reality comes homes to me as I still tread bumpy rough streets coming into downtown.
Notwithstanding the concerns stated, it has been difficult to get city leaders to address the staggering maintenance and upkeep costs associated with a splash pad. Previously estimated at $60,000, one must keep in mind these costs are permanent and present year-round, even when the facility is idle in winter months.
Contrary to the image created by the city manager, attendance and participation with other similar projects in other cities has dwindled significantly after the first couple years with maintenance and upkeep cost remaining.
We are long past the day when we need good judgment and leadership on the council and at City Hall. With our opportunities this election year, we should be willing to assert ourselves and, if necessary, clean house at City Hall!
Qualifying is starting in a couple weeks and, obviously, to bring effective change at City Hall, we must have capable sincere candidates willing to step up to the plate and run.
Be sure to find time to go to the polls and vote!
James W. Anderson