As City Library Treads Water, District Readies Cement Boots

I sincerely hope I am proven wrong on the fate of the library at the hands of district voters to approve a $200K referendum to fund the library. But past experience tells me I am probably right to be skeptical.
If you recall, several years ago there was a similar situation unfolding at the Walter Elwood Museum when it reached out to the city and the GASD for support in maintaining its financial viability either through a referendum or direct funding through the district.
At that time, there was significnt pushback to the idea from our usual cadre of pundits and elected leaders. You know the drill: “We can’t afford it. Taxes are too high.” Yadda, yadda. So the museum was shuttered at its former site on Guy Park, rushed into a new home in the Guy Park Manor and soon after saw parts of its collection float down the Mohawk as a consequence of flooding from tropical storm Irene. WHile the museum still exists today, it is unquestionable that the disrpution to the museum’s operations from the above put it in serious risk.
And what was the dollar figure that was deemed so excessive for the public to support– nine thousand dollars. I wrote about this almost 8 years ago (Parody of Farce) and yet is just as relevant today.
Not $90,000, not $900,000 — just $9,000.
Compare that ask to the library’s ask of $200K. Now you know why I remain skeptical of such a referendum to pass.
Here’s the thing though: if you can’t afford anything or be willing to invest in things, you can’t have anything. If you are not willing to support and pay for anything related to quality of life, you will get the very death spiral the city finds itself in with an ever growing loss of things that would attract anyone to stay or move into a city.
The truth is actually not that we can’t afford things but that we choose the wrong things to spend money on. The city spends millions of dollars , year after year, tearing buildings down but apparently can’t spare any money to sustain a museum or support a local library. So it’s not at all about affordability — it’s about choices. And more often than not, our district and city pick precisely the worst choice from an ever growing pool of bad choices.
The failure to sustain institutions such as a museum and a library present existential threats to a city. How can you build a city when core attractions such as a museum and library become untenable? Even worse, what does it say about a city that actually garners more public support to shut down a museum or a library versus keeping them running? A city that champions tearing down while belittling building up.
I sure hope I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure that the cement boots are getting fitted and poured as I write this.

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