Change is rarely easy to accept. We tend to get comfortable with the way things are and dislike any disruption in that security. The City of John Day is offering a chance to break out of that rut and accept a refreshing vision for the future face of our major city in this county. The problem with seeing the whole vision at once is the perception that it all is going to take place at once. It is clearly stated that these renovations are optional to local businesses and building owners and will need most of the next decade to accomplish. But I think that once the project starts rolling, others will quickly see the assets and add to the momentum.
I have heard several complaints:
1) There is free money so we'd better find a way to use it - Why not? Why shouldn't money offered by grants, the state, or other agencies be used here in John Day and Grant County?
2) We have so many other needs like upgrades to the fairgrounds, a new firehouse, etc. - This money is designated for beautification and traffic relief, not for other needs. There are many grants and resources in the United States that can provide funding for other needs if one pursues them.
3) Rerouting traffic will reduce exposure to downtown merchants and adversely affect their survival - If John Day was on the major route anywhere, that might be the case. But it's not! With no slight intended to nearby Grant County towns, John Day is the only community with a full range of services for 70-120 miles. Travelers are not going to base their decision to stop in John Day on whether the major highway goes through the center or a few blocks away.
4) Who would want to live in upstairs apartments downtown? The ones there now are decrepit and rarely filled - Sure, one doesn't want to live in a dump, but you might be surprised at the demand these classy downtown apartments may bring. Many towns and cities have learned that one of the best ways of maintaining or revitalizing a downtown area is to have people living there.
5) Why should the city council or management be trusted? - Why shouldn't they be trusted? The citizens of John Day elected the city council members and mayor to their positions and they control the management positions. These people donate their time and energy for the betterment of the city, but if it is felt that individuals are detrimental to John Day's present or future, express that during the next election with your vote or run for the position.
All I ask is that individuals apply a little curiosity and wonderment before closing their minds to the way things have been. Try to visualize the possible benefits of this plan and weigh them fairly with the potential obstacles.
Tom Winters, John Day