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Growing Pains (Editorial 5-3-17)

Growing Pains

Gosh! The last editorial generated a lot of comments and questions. While on that theme, how do you extend water and sewer to allow for growth, to accommodate expansion…and dreams, and not break the bank or break the law or break out pistols?

Towns grow. Good ones do. There are some issues that take time and money and study and judicious spending and leadership to address. One is traffic. Desperately needed, then one day there’s too much of it.

We just got our ISO rating lowered to a 3 (see the story on the front page in this issue) and growth is everywhere taxing services and resources. Someone has to be the occasional bad guy and enforce the law and at the same time encourage the growth that brings in sales tax collections, industry, small businesses and residential development. Fighting a big fire with little water is too much to expect. Putting in sufficient sized waterlines is too expensive. Or so it’s argued.

If waterlines in areas that will one day be annexed are too small, how do you fight a fire there effectively if you can’t require the bigger lines on the front end? If no one requires rural water providers to put in bigger lines, how do you develop in the areas served by that provider? Meeting in advance of these problems is the key. Why don’t we? There are sewer lines already planned and engineered for Fort Smith’s extension south. Places where no one would ever think sewer lines would ever need to extend. I’ve seen them. Advance planning is an absolute necessity. Haphazard development cannot be allowed. It’s not fair to those who have to fight fires. It’s not fair to all those houses already on small water lines to extend the development further. The size requirements and the territorial rights of rural water suppliers leads to one conclusion that is as obvious as the total on your water bill. Greenwood’s growing. Some of the surrounding towns aren’t. Some not much, some not very much and some not at all. That “Conclusion” will come in another article on these growing pains. Or, I will take my conclusion up with the Water/Wastewater Committee that oversees these things for the City and let them take it from there. Greenwood has a committee of talented folks who handle water issues so that the mayor doesn’t have to these days. Same with parks issues. The argument is that the committee takes the politics and all out of the equation. They can focus on the future without making friends or enemies.

What about the sewer lines to Greenwood’s treatment plant that is already over-burdened? Greenwood will need another wastewater treatment plant on the west side and will likely have to annex land for it.

Some of the issues facing Greenwood’s westward expansion can be remedied with a backhoe (trading line extension for rights-of-way or trading fire station space for water and sewer line installation or trading services for annexation or trading much needed street-widening for installation or trading fill dirt for line installation or such). It’s all in the way one negotiates and who wants into the city limits and who HAS to be in the city limits to achieve their goals. Timing is everything. Or almost everything. Leadership crucial.

Back to traffic. In the not too distant future, some who fought annexation will have a thousand cars a day going past their homes on narrow, rutted streets. They will share water lines that are too small with too many new homes. There will be no zoning in those areas and whom do you think will scream the loudest about inferior fire protection and too much traffic and offensive business interests next door. I’m not talking about a chicken house next door to you (wouldn’t have shoes on my feet today if not for a chicken house). Not talking about a noisy truck stop. Do you realize that there is little to keep offensive businesses (however you define that) from being erected on property at the intersection of Highway 71 and a dozen side streets? Or up and down county roads that extend into and out of Greenwood. Some things require a license and some things don’t.  A little planning goes a long way. It’s time for some.

It’s time to negotiate to protect the property values and the looks and feel and quality of life in Greenwood, Arkansas, where I remain,

Yours for a kinder tomorrow,

Kenneth Lawton Edwards, Editor

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PSG Pharmacy