Not Missing Opportunities when you’ve got the chance is the main theme of Don Bertrands’ guest editorial in today’s Advertiser.
He points out how obstructionism and fear have lead to missed opportunities in the past–opportunities that we can now realize only at great cost in both the city’s funds and the community’s sense that we treat each other fairly.
Obstructionism cost us the loop around Lafayette when narrow corporate interests lead to a lawsuit, resulting in Lafayette’s population not being counted as large enough to get a loop when Lake Charles’ did. We are now talking about at toll road to try and fund an expensive project that is clearly needed as the city expands but which also gets more expensive as the expansion of the city drives both the need and the cost sky high. We, the current generations, will pay dearly for the corporate obstructionism of the past.
Fear of losing a vital downtown district lead to Lafayette forgoing a system of frontage roads that other cities built as a matter of course. The thought appears to have been, understandably perhaps, that we had a good downtown and didn’t want to lose it. So we shut off the developmental possibilities of frontage roads. But as we well know, fearing change and the changes the future brings doesn’t keep the future from happening anyway. Development moved away from downtown anyway…it just moved out to strip malls, the oil center, and downtown Johnson to Acadiana Mall. The vitality of the downtown corridor has only been bought at great expense and with the acceptance that it won’t be retail that drives the area. We could have been less fearful and managed the inevitable in a more balanced way that didn’t drive all development southward. We are paying the price for another generations fear now.
But the LUS story is one of a boldness, other city’s waited and let private obstructionists or their own fear thwart the public good. But Lafayette build a top-notch public utility that is still one of the most reliable and powerful public power entities anywhere. We have every right to be proud of those decisions and to honor our forefathers that made them.
The fiber optic story can either resemble the loop and frontage road stories or the story of the LUS electrical utility. We can wilt before obstructionism and fear or stand up for Lafayette and her future.