Timing could be bad for paving

Published 5:23 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When the Chilton County Commission voted to pave the entrance road to Minooka Park in their meeting this week, they obviously wanted to improve the appearance of the landmark and, in turn, draw more visitors to the park. But in doing so, the commission may have done more to hurt its public image than help it.

It’s certainly commendable that the commission included in its measure a provision that the project would not take priority over existing road projects that affect county residents more directly. It wouldn’t be right to pull workers off county roads that people must travel on every day to fix a park entrance road. For this reason, the project might not get started for a year or two.

But in a time of economic recession when a large percentage of county roads need major work, can the commission justify paving the Minooka road? Chairman Tim Mims doesn’t think so. He called it “absurd” that the project would even be considered when there are more serious paving needs across the county.

The county does have enough money pave the 1.9-mile road. There is more than enough money in the Minooka Park account to pave it with tar and gravel, which is the most inexpensive option.

If there is not a legal way to use the Minooka money to fix any other roads, then why not approve the paving? Especially when the cost of materials keeps going up every year, as pointed out by Commissioner Bobby Agee.

But even with the added provisions, the decision might seem like an insult to the residents of some county roads that have been on a project list for years or even decades. And in a world where people don’t exactly have the most trust in public officials, Monday’s vote doesn’t seem to help much — especially considering that three commissioners were opposed to the measure.

The commission is currently in the process of organizing public hearings to be held across the county. If they are going to gain the public’s trust, then they will need to display unity and come up with a plan that targets the county’s most critical needs.

Just like they say — timing is everything.