For the week of May 19, 1999  thru May 25, 1999  

Open space bond issue is about the quality of life


Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Anyone disagree that preserving a certain quality of life is a major preoccupation of most everyone in the Wood River Valley, especially those who’ve survived and fled the poisoning of urban America?

That’s what the May 25 bond issue vote is all about, it seems to me – creating a method for protecting open space from being gobbled up by rampant industrial or residential development.

The bond vote is not the only sign of community concern for protecting lifestyle by any means.

Generous supporters of the arts and culture, sports, youth programs, animals, the needy and terminally ill, the dispossessed and abused and a wide range of environmental interests have been unflagging with vibrant moral and financial aid to causes they consider keystones of the Wood River Valley’s lifestyle.

With all this brain power and passion for the Wood River Valley’s lifestyle, and so many distinctively successful separate programs, can more be done?

Yep. How these organizations forging themselves into what might be called the Wood River Valley Quality of Life Council.

Purely ad hoc and non-governmental, this sort of group could devise a "Quality of Life Index," a matrix defining what constitutes a minimum standard for quality of life in the Wood River Valley.

Since "Quality of life" means different things to different folks of different interests, the virtue of such an umbrella group would be to deliver a report at least annually that sounds the alarm when any indicator begins slip, and remedies need to be launched, just as the Save Our Open Space Open committee did.

If the community agrees action is needed, so be it. If not, then the council will have fulfilled its responsibility.

Quality of life, of course, goes beyond spectacular natural grandeur and environment.

What about personal security and safety – are the Valley’s fire, police and emergency services properly funded and equipped?

Do our public schools need community help?

Is air quality at risk with more and more vehicles in the Valley?

Are youth programs and parent responsibility up to snuff and thus helping head off delinquency problems that have led to gang problems elsewhere?

Are streets and roads adequate and properly maintained to handle more volume without transforming the Valley into a concrete canyon?

If we’re to our character and lifestyle, we need to rely on civic vigilantes serving as modern-day Paul Reveres, willing to sound the alarm when the Valley’s quality of life is in peril.

 

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