City Properties, Infrastructure Need Repair

Many of the city’s infrastructure and buildings are starting to age out, John Yellig wrote in yesterday’s Daily Progress, necessitating millions of dollars in impending repairs and upgrades. Roads, sidewalks, the central fire station and city hall all require costly improvements. (City Hall is hideous. I wish we could tear the thing down and start over again. Who thought it’d be a good idea to construct city hall without windows?)

The article doesn’t mention two of the more costly projects due: the central library and the Downtown Mall. The beautiful old building that houses the library on Market Street is badly in need of some serious renovation that the city can’t put off much longer. And the Downtown Mall is crumbling under the weight of vehicular traffic it was never meant to bear, though a fellow in the city engineer’s office told me some years ago that the whole structure has aged badly, and much of it needs to be torn up and rebuilt.

Seems to me spending money on new maintenance-requiring capital improvements (expanding the Downtown Mall down side streets, revamping West Main) isn’t a great use of money right now, unless they’ll lead to increased city revenues sufficient to offset those costs.

Kevin Lynch makes an interesting suggestion in the article: differentiating between commercial and residential properties for the purpose of taxes, such that they can be taxed at different rates.

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