To the editor:
People often call Mobile the ‘city of perpetual promise/potential.’ Every time I hear that, I wince and here’s why; unfortunately, every once in a while, we show that’s not too far off from reality. This is one of those times.
Tuesday, November 5th, the city council is/was set to approve or deny Mayor Stimpson’s proposal to annex a few new pockets of the county to bring in a little more than 10,000 new residents. At the time of this writing, I’m not certain of what that vote would be at the time of this writing. Therefore, I offer these thoughts for our city to ponder.
While I think we can all agree we want our beloved Mobile to grow, this is one of those moments from which Mobilians and longtime residents have long grown weary. Just when we are on the cusp of great things, it seems we often get distracted by a ‘quick fix’ and end up paying for it through taxpayer dollars and a lack of progress for decades. Virtually snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Growing Mobile is great and a must for ensuring a bright future. But, we should be doing this by investing in what we already have instead of making yet another costly mistake.
Since 2010, we have lost thousands of residents – without losing any land or responsibilities. According to the US Census Bureau figures published earlier this year on al.com, the population in the City of Mobile has been in a steep decline for the last several years. Corresponding to that report, in less than ten years, we have lost over 5,000 residents in the Port City.
If your car were hemorrhaging oil, just pouring in more oil wouldn’t solve the problem. All that would do is waste money and create a mess in your garage and/or on your driveway.
Citizens of Mobile don’t need to buy more oil; we need to fix the leak. Rather than take on new areas to drive up our current residents, we need to address why we are losing them in the first place? What I would suggest we do, is continuing to invest in ALL OF OUR COMMUNITIES, and that includes those with existing empty residences – like our downtown which is on the brink of a full-blown reawakening.
Between the hundreds (if not thousands) of units available through the new residential developments downtown (which we have been working so hard to attract), the homes our local residents, entrepreneurs and developers have been working hard to fix up to sell and the still empty or even blighted residences or open residential property, we can grow this number within our existing city.
On top of already having the bandwith, while we are starting to work through the decades of neglected infrastructure work, we still have A LOT of work to do there and in many other areas servicing the city we already have.
Recently and for several weeks our local neighborhoods across the city were struggling with overflowing trash as a direct result of our Public Works Department being understaffed, overworked and underpaid.
Who could forget, just a few weeks ago when our Botanical Gardens, starved by the city for years, was on the brink of closing? Or what about our libraries which are closed on Sundays supposedly because we lack the funding? And then there is the litter crisis, and, worst of all the lack of public safety (VIOLENT CRIME) is startling – which rightfully continues to frighten our current residents and no doubt terrifies others away.
These are the reasons why no matter how much of our taxpayer dollars get poured into ‘economic development’ offerings for new companies locating in the city, their employees and especially their executives, cross the bay to make their home elsewhere and that includes several prominent members of the Mayor’s staff and appointees who also choose to do the same. In fact, how ironic it was that the city attorney, who resides in Spanish Fort articulated clarifications of the mayor’s proposal to our city council.
Let’s address these issues and, in doing so, “fix the leak!” We already have what we need. We just must realize what we have and invest in our communities instead of finding new communities to invest in. Don’t you think your children and grandchildren deserve that? I know ours do.
Lastly, let’s see this through instead of setting ourselves back once again and proving the ‘city of perpetual promise/potential’ label is truer than any of us Mobilians would like to believe.
Karlos F. Finley
4th generation Mobilian and current continuous resident of 37 year.
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