For the week of June 2, 1999  thru June 8, 1999  


Open space and the Kitty Hawk

Orville and Wilbur Wright knew it: Not every new idea flies the first time out. The open-space bond that failed to garner the approval of 2/3 of voters last week was no exception.

Bond supporters should follow the lead of the Wright brothers who were certain their dream of flight was not fatally flawed. The brothers saw many flying machines crash before they finally hit on the Kitty Hawk, the mother of all modern airplanes.

Issuing a bond to purchase open-space easements on private property is a good idea. The bond failed because the blueprints were missing a few things. No one had defined open space or identified specific properties for easements. No one convinced south-county landowners that they would see any benefit from open-space easements.

Voters needed a prototype, a Kitty Hawk. Voters may have been more amenable to the open-space bond had they known exactly how and where the money was going to be spent. The open-ended unstructured nature of the program laid out by organizers made many uneasy and failed to soothe the fears of skeptics.

Organizers clearly underestimated the opposition among south-county residents. They underestimated the concern of other residents that the bond was rushed in order to avoid colliding with a bond for new recreation facilities that is waiting in the wings.

Organizers should learn from the rejection, create a specific program for open-space easements and try again. Like the Kitty Hawk, the bond will fly one day.


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