Um, not exactly…
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” Job 38:2
The folks raising $1 million to put a nice finish on the 400 block in downtown Wausau are closing in on their goal. The project is going to happen and that’s a good thing. It will be a legacy from the people of our community today to the people of tomorrow. There were some heavy lifters involved and others who made small donations to advance the vision. I’m grateful for all of them. It wasn’t necessarily the most fair way to do things, but it certainly knocked down the biggest objection to the project.
I always enjoy a good debate because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What they’re not entitled to is their own facts. Here’s a discussion on the WSAU Radio news blog:
First, the fountain won’t look anything like the picture in the blog. As you can read in the comments, one of the participants states that the photo was lifted from “Fun Outdoor Living” and the blog writer admits he doesn’t know what the fountain will look like in the course of the discussion. Just in case the photo magically changes or disappears at some point, here’s what they’re talking about in the orginal post:
What’s actually being planned is a flush-to-the-ground fountain that is more like the one that I’m showing you here. Far be it from me to suggest that if you’ve been reporting the news for years and you want to comment about it, you might want to have some understanding of what you’re talking about. But it doesn’t seem like a lot to expect, at this late date.
So when you want to use the space for something like an event on the square, it’s all pretty simple. You turn the fountain off.
The blog writer also presumes to speak for the majority, who don’t want the project. The fountain should be eliminated (in honor of all the people who are against it, I guess.) Well, the writer doesn’t speak for the majority. He speaks for himself. The money for the fountain arises from a gift made specifically for that purpose.
And then there’s discussion that follows, in which a regular fantastic claimer makes another fantastic claim: that the city has pumped more than $200 million into the downtown. Well, the entire property tax levy for city purposes over the last decade isn’t much more than $200 million in total. The share of city tax dollars going to debt service is lower today than it was 10 years ago. Around $100 million of development has occurred downtown in that time, but here’s a really important fact: most of it was private money, not taxpayer dollars. And much of that development occurred as a direct or indirect result of a parking ramp project that the comment writer decries as some kind of waste of money.
In short, the discussion, at times, is as distorted as the image of the fountain that leads it off.
These are tough times. But the revitalization that has already occurred in Wausau puts our community in a far better position to capture new opportunities going forward, as elusive as they are at the present time. We didn’t squander the good times.
For now, I’m very grateful to the private sector in this community. They’ve put up the great majority of the money for the 400 block project — fountain and all — just like they’ve put up the majority of the money for the tremendous improvements downtown and elsewhere in our community.