Vote ‘yes’ on Sanford’s four community bonds

Aug. 21, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The issue: Sanford’s Sept. 10 bond issues, which will provide up to $14.5 million to finance four community improvement projects

Our view: The streetscape and pedestrian improvements, greenway and trails, parks and recreation and sidewalk improvement referendums will be a catalyst to reinvigorate Sanford. Voting “yes” will subvert the piecemeal process we’ve relied upon for so long and create a return on investment that will generate dividends for our community — among them, pride — for years to come.

There are times when it’s useful to judge a book by its cover. A cursory, but fresh-eyed, trek through downtown Sanford and Jonesboro tends to leave a definitive subtitle in one’s mind: “Here’s a community that doesn’t seem to care very much at all.”

We’re not really that community. Passersby and the occasional visitor don’t know and love Sanford and Lee County like most of us do. They see flaws we overlook because we know the value of what’s on the inside. Sanford’s heart is indeed huge, even if on the outside it bears the physical scars of neglect and need — but that ultimately wears on the heart, doesn’t it?

The four bond issues on the Sept. 10 ballots of city voters won’t provide the kind of extreme makeover we’d all love to give our home, but the projects the $14.5 million referendums would finance could be the impetus to a new love affair with our community.

The projects could turn heads and hearts.

Remember when New York City addressed its out-of-control crime by first fixing broken windows and cleaning up graffiti? The change in mindset created by addressing the unsightly but common small blemishes was the needed trigger to ultimately help address bigger problems, including behavioral issues societally ingrained.

Don’t we need a turnaround in Sanford? Our piecemeal approach to projects like these, which by default has become the city’s go-to strategy in the last generation or two, has obviously failed. We’ve sidestepped sidewalks and gutters and cut corners on zoning, beautification and community amenities.

The payoff is self-evident. These bonds, which should cost the average homeowner no more than $1.50 per week (and potentially much less), could have the kind of return on investment that is being reaped by neighboring cities all around us — dividends paid elsewhere while our fashion goes not just out of style, but out of order.

We could debate the merits of the wisdom of the timing and cost of these projects, but let’s just say that most of the “no” vote arguments bandied by the short-sighted come without vision or alternative resolution. That makes sense: any far-sighted, well-centered vision of Sanford would see that the only acceptable vote on each of the four bond issues is a resounding “yes.”