As it is stated in formal legalese:
THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CIVIL CITY OF NEW ALBANY, INDIANA, WILL HOLD A REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING IN THE THIRD FLOOR ASSEMBLY ROOM OF THE CITY/COUNTY BUILDING ON THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2005 AT 7:30 P.M.
Tonight's agenda is posted here.
Here is Amany Ali's Tribune article today (thanks Rick C.): City Council to take on Scribner Place tonight
Expect the city's "no progress at any price" sect to continue its rear-guard action against Scribner Place at tonight's meeting, with speakers warning us that the slimmest possibility of higher taxes a decade or more down the road is reason enough to abandon all efforts to maintain a civil society in New Albany.
I beg to differ.
From here on, when the words "not with my property taxes" are spoken, I will instead hear, "not with my participation," and I will ask: "Why don't you want to participate in making a better community?"
"Are you opting out from the benefits, as well?"
At the June 6 city council meeting, a citizen speaker asked a rhetorical question:
What makes a progressive community?
The speaker proceeded to suggest three components of a progressive community.
It seeks solutions where none exist.
It is collaborative.
It builds, not divides.
Unfortunately, the speaker’s conclusion did not logically follow from his premises, which is a significant and common flaw in argumentation, but this should not prevent us from acknowledging their merits.
By definition, to be progressive is to move forward and advance. Progress need not be feared, as it is by some in this city, as a process that inevitably destroys, uproots and assaults traditional values.
Rather, to be progressive is to see our surroundings as they are, recognizing that the world around us will continue to change and evolve without our approval, our co-operation, or even our consultation, and in the end, see that our best hope is to advance with it, free to learn from changing circumstances, adapt to them, and create our own solutions.
Receptivity to new ideas and new methods is a central facet of a progressive worldview, and when applied toward the imperative of improving the quality of life in New Albany, such an attitude of openness must characterize our economic development strategies as well as the view we hold of ourselves as members of a community and possessors both of rights and responsibilities.
At this crucial juncture in the history of New Albany, we see elements of a progressive ideal struggle to take root and grow. These efforts are manifested by the actions of citizens both within and outside of governing circles, ranging from small businessmen downtown to the members of neighborhood associations, and from earnest bids to advance the cause of historical preservation to worthwhile and justifiable governmental projects to provide impetus to revitalization.
Scribner Place is one such project, and as might be expected given a community experiencing abrupt transitions in political and cultural realms, it has been transformed from its fundamental nature as a legitimate investment in the overall public good, into a symbolic representation of all that is feared and misunderstood about a changing world – and, accordingly, something to be attacked as the cause of problems rather than a likely source of relief.
The June 6 speaker’s premises are correct, but his conclusion – that Scribner Place must be abandoned by the city of New Albany and handed off like an unwanted puppy to elements of the private sector that would never have become involved in the project without the city’s participation – is entirely mistaken.
In fact, Scribner Place embodies the notion of seeking solutions where none exist. Prime but under-utilized downtown real estate is to be developed, attracting further investment in a struggling downtown area and a rising tax base that will benefit each and every New Albany citizen.
In fact, Scribner Place is collaborative, bringing together the YMCA, the Caesar’s Foundation and LifeSpan Resources, in a plan conceived by Republicans and brought to fruition by Democrats.
In fact, for these reasons and many others, Scribner Place stands to assist in the building of a better community, not dividing it, but only if the project is seen for what it is and what it is intended to achieve, and not as a convenient repository for all the anxieties and uncertainties felt by normal people who sense change in the offing, and are frightened by it.
As exemplified by the June 6 speaker, there are those amongst us who continue to willfully misrepresent New Albany’s bright opportunities for progress in the context of projects such as Scribner Place and the Cannon Acres sports park, some who do so for politically motivated reasons, others from the dictates of bizarre pathologies that defy both description and reason.
It is at best untrue, and in at worst profoundly harmful, for those who fear progress to insist that money, in the form of that most virulent of contemporary bugaboos, taxation, is the sole determining factor when it comes to planning today for life’s realities tomorrow.
The tired adage about death and taxes still applies, and money is a fact of life, without which options are limited, but it isn’t the yardstick that human beings use to measure vision, character or commitment to ideals, which are critical intangibles that define the aspirations and achievements of the human spirit.
When the day comes that we regard money – or the lack of it – as the only means by which to measure our hopes and dreams as a people and as a community, we will have forfeited completely the lessons taught to us by our forbearers, people who did not come to New Albany riding wagons filled with gold ingots, but instead arrived here with ideas and the muscles, sweat and determination to build a city.
It should suffice to state that the next two or three city council meetings are very important for the future prospects of New Albany.
Those among us who seek progressive ways of dealing with our problems, who understand the urgency of revitalizing the city’s moribund downtown district, who grasp that there can be no such condition as status quo when it comes to the ebb and flow of human events, and who are the people willing to stand up and proudly say that we can do, not that we can’t, must be active and visible in the coming weeks.
It's our time, because we support progress, and progress is synonymous with the future of New Albany.