Developer responds to Whaley
To the Editor:
Contrary to the beliefs of Council Member Lee Whaley, planned growth does pay for itself. The current interest in developing new projects in Baldwin City may represent a narrow, nonrecurring window of opportunity for the community to mitigate or even overcome the effects of several decades of neglect and mismanagement. However, this window of opportunity could be closed indefinitely by an irresponsible or less than fully informed city government.
Antiquated utility infrastructure, deteriorated streets, lack of storm sewer systems, inadequate retail services, and absence of housing choices for the elderly, as well as park and recreational deficiencies were all present in Baldwin City before private capital created the Heritage, Fire Tree and Brittany Ridge subdivisions. In addition, before new development, Baldwin City had a static or even shrinking tax base. This meant that the cost of repairing a neglected city, without the help of new development, would fall entirely on an already overtaxed citizenry, many of whom are living on fixed incomes.
Mr. Whaley fails to acknowledge that new housing developments, with streets and utilities constructed in accordance with modern building codes and totally paid for by the developer, will require minimal maintenance by the city for the next 30 to 40 years. In contrast to these new housing developments, the older parts of Baldwin City currently need new streets and storm sewers, and a good portion of the water and sewer lines need to be replaced. Inevitably the fees and taxes generated by new development will pay for the repair and maintenance of the old development in Baldwin City.
The virtue or evil of new development in the community is a subject that should be as fully debated as the current controversy over the industrial/recreational park being proposed by the Baldwin City Council. To this end I would be willing to participate with Mr. Whaley in a panel discussion or other appropriate public forum so that the citizens of Baldwin City might be more fully informed before further governmental action on new development is taken which may have an adverse effect on the future of the City. Accusations do not solve city problems; public dialogue does.
Jerry L. Donnelly
Developer of Fire Tree Estates