Reporter Karen Jonas asked our City Council members what they accomplished in 2010 and what they would like to see happening in 2011 and published the responses in Wednesday's Desert Dispatch.
We are gratified to see the emphasis on the city's infrastructure in the responses. Every single council member acknowledged the city's repair needs in some fashion.
Looking forward to 2011, it is vitally important for the city to keep up with upgrades and repairs to the city's street and sewer systems and not get distracted with side issues.
Bluntly put, pretty much every single street in Barstow needs to be repaved or reconstructed. All of them. These winter rains have really highlighted how much damage streets have taken over the years. Chunks of pavement have been ripped out of roads around town due to the rushing water.
It's good to see real road reconstruction begin, but it appears to be pretty slow going and we would like to see something like a five-year plan for systematically renovating Barstow's streets.
We hit this issue a lot this year partly because residents have made it clear to us that it's a top priority for them, but also because a stable, clean city infrastructure is really the only thing that will lead to the other goals leaders (and citizens) would like to see.
For example, people bring up jobs, of course. We need more jobs in Barstow. But what company wants to locate in a city that looks like it's falling apart? Can a major employer position itself in Barstow and trust that the city will be able to provide the infrastructure needs that the company will likely be asked to pay to provide? We will find out this year if the Walmart distribution center finally begins construction.
By the same token, it was a bit misguided of the city to try to increase enforcement of city code violations the past decade, given the poor example it has been setting. How can the city demand a home or a business clean itself up when the street that runs right in front of it looks just as bad, or even worse?
Resolve to get these infrastructure issues handled and avoid side projects that don't speak to the city's core mission. Development and growth will follow.