From the coverage in the Tribune on the Neighborhood Improvement Program and Elmerine you should wonder how this even came about. NIP has been on the books for some time but has been dormant in recent years. The idea is for the city to partner with a neighborhood on improvement projects. The City Council decided to revive the program last fall and set aside $50,000 just to see if any neighborhoods would be interested.
The renewed funding didn't get a lot of publicity but one councilman, Ron Medin, e-mailed his constituents to make sure they knew about the possibility of the partnership. Once the city became aware that residents on Elmerine were moving forward, the Public Works section provided residents with a petition showing the personal contribution that would be required of each. Ninety-five percent of Elmerine residents responded by signing the petition to engage in the process.
Given the response from Elmerine, the City Council and the Public Works group have been trying to work out the details. There are a lot of caveats about how the project cannot come before vital infrastructure issues in the city. That is reasonable but Public Works never led the council members to believe the project was not doable with the city work load it faces.
We know monetary constraints are considerable in America today. The American Society of Civil Engineers has a report card on America's infrastructure needs. In 15 categories the average grade for effort is a D. Nationally we are in need of $2 trillion in public works to repair what we have. It does not have to be this way. The problem is one of priorities.
Taking back America has been a political rallying cry in America since the early 20th century. Now citizens on Elmerine want to improve the place where they live. Elmerine has spoken and has put skin in the game with their monetary contribution. They are thankful the city will partner with them to improve infrastructure. It should just be the beginning of the city's efforts.