The city of Danville should invest in a diversity of economic activity

March 07, 2004

Dear Editor:

Operation Safe T (Advocate Feb. 13th) illustrates that no matter how Danville grows tax money (local, state, and federal) will be required to ensure commerce and safety. The question is how to spend this money? It's analogous to the concept of health, being truly preventative, or waiting until the ailment is full-blown to Band-Aid it.

Planning and Zoning opposed the relocation of Lowe's, and the Kentucky State Highway Department study predicted the relocation will create hyper-congestion leading to increase in public health risks. As a result of the City Commission overruling Planning and Zoning and not taking the advice of a respectable government survey, Danville now spends taxes for the police to baby-sit an intersection.

Some argue that tax money shouldn't be spent for commercial development; rather let the free market replace archaic modes of business with more efficient, cheaper innovations. Ironically, this free market's foundations are billion-dollar public works projects, which cynically requires these projects to require bypass surgery to unclog vehicular arteries. Operation Safe T is the first Band-Aid.


The trend of commercial strip-development is beginning to dominate much of our economy, culture, and politics. Danville started as frontier stations, following this were streets for buggies to accommodate the growing wealth, then the electric trolley and finally the automobile; we are at a historic junction again of congestion - what are we going to do? Many models exist. One practical and increasingly attractive model is the pedestrian "friendly" community. Another is the Hub Frankel redevelopment project, said to be the largest redevelopment of its kind for a community this size.

The Hub project should do two things if nothing else. One is build pride, second is teach us that development costs both the private and public sectors. Those sectors should jointly plan our communities to be diverse, easily navigable and growth-oriented - not segregated, willy-nilly, and open to whatever is available at the moment. It's a matter of allocation timing, preventative or Band-Aid - like Operation Safe T. Hub revitalization isn't only commercial, but civic.

The Industrial Park has been so productive and sustaining because of highly selective criteria. Currently the criteria in our community's Comprehensive Plan are being rewritten for commercial growth, which many eagerly coax to create/retain jobs and tax base as a result of corporate flight to global regions where communities provide cheap labor and relax regulations to accommodate the demands of the corporation over the community. Just as industry is having profound consequences on developing communities, corporate commercial development is dramatically affecting this community.

Job growth in the sector with the lowest wages and highest turnover is not sustainable. We should not invest too much in businesses where overwhelmingly the teenage population serves a high cholesterol diet to people in an oversized vehicle.

Danville should invest in what America has always been great at during times of transition - innovation. Local investment shouldn't be in the type of Goliath retail innovation that snuffs out competition - the backbone of this country. Invest in diversity of economic activity and location. Minimize sprawl, while maximizing development. Invest in programs that allow our children opportunities both inside and outside of school to become problem-solvers and creative thinkers so that we don't end up having to Band-Aid problems that shouldn't happen in the first place.

Ryan Montgomery


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