City fails to do its job downtown
April 9, 2010 · Updated 11:52 AM
You started off the Pioneer way project on the wrong foot by misleading the public with the “preferred” one-way street drawing and a sabotaged two-way drawing,
The council made a bad choice that directly negatively affects hundreds of downtown business owners and indirectly affects thousands of Oak Harbor taxpayers. You voted against the merchants’ needs, against the property owners’ needs, and against the townspeople’s needs.
The city has continued to move forward with a multi-million-dollar “plan” with costs that are still rising. The one-way plan has not been shown to any of the downtown merchants and the city has failed to receive input from the people to whom the plan will directly affect.
Since January, the city has failed to communicate with the downtown merchants regarding the plan. The city has failed to so much as provide merchants with newsletters or emails updating them on the progress of the construction.
A few weeks ago, the Harborside Merchants met with Jill Johnson from the Chamber of Commerce to find out what she knows about the plan. She was anxious to meet with us to find out what we know about the plan. Needless to say, both the Chamber and the Harborside Merchants know nothing. The city has left us completely in the dark.
We gave Ms. Johnson a list of ideas that, if implemented, will benefit the downtown area now and through the construction period. She was to meet with Mayor Slowik the following week. We all have yet to hear back from the mayor regarding the plan for the construction period.
After months of the city refusing to actively communicate with the chamber, the Oak Harbor citizens, and the downtown merchants, it is a ridiculous and offensive idea for the city to hire an outside group to communicate with us. The city is attempting to hire someone for $91,000 to do a job that it should already be doing. The council members and our mayor are supposed to be positions of public office — we voted these individuals into office to look after our best interests.
Based upon the city’s actions over the past months, it is safe to say that the city has, without a doubt, failed us all in that capacity. Despite the city’s failures, the answer is simply not to throw money at the problem. The answer is not to spend thousands of dollars we don’t have to hire a consultant group to do the job that our public officials were elected to do.
Hiring an outside consulting group for thousands of dollars should be a last resort. We are not yet at the point of last resort. The city has simply not done its job. An outside consulting group will do nothing more than create an even larger wedge between the local government and its citizens. This expensive and unnecessary PR attempt is a distraction from what is truly at issue. We need the city to step-up and communicate with its taxpayers. We need the city to listen to us. We need the city to do the job it was elected to do.