Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why fix those medians now?

I've heard a lot of grumbling about the "improvements" being done to the medians on 11th Street, especially the timing of the work given the city's financial straits. I put improvements in quotation marks, because I've heard serious doubts as to whether these rocky centers are actually an upgrade.

I can't answer the question of taste, but I can tell you that the money for the median work isn't coming from the city's General Fund. It's from developer fees that are specifically set aside for median improvements on Tracy's main thoroughfares, according to City Manager Leon Churchill.

In other words, this is not money that could be used to shore up the city's projected $4.8 million deficit for 2010-11. It's not money that could pay for firefighters and police officers. It's not money that can be used to maintain your local park, or keep Joe Wilson Pool open. It's money that either must be used for median upgrades, or sit unused.

So, Churchill said, instead of not spending money just to feel more frugal, the city decided to go ahead with the long-ago planned construction.

In reality, the only quibble I have — aside from the small delays the work has caused — is that there seems to be a serious dearth of trees on those new medians.

I get the rock — it's low-maintenance, doesn't need water, etc. But the city needs trees. Not just for looks, but for shade and their natrual cooling effect on brutally hot days.

For a town trying to reach Emerald City status, I would have thought more fast-growing trees would have been a no-brain decision. Then again, when it comes to getting green, "no-brain" is a relative term.

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