Growth a good topic of discussion

August 25, 2006 12:00 am

You only have to look at Boise or Bend to be reminded that small towns can explode into small cities in a matter of decades — and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

That's why we're happy City Manager Jerry Gillham and Mayor Chuck Hofmann are getting the discussion going on growth. Neither one has to get this talk going — they're both lame ducks in their positions. But they'll be passing a very important baton to their successors, and that's a measure of statesmanship worth recognizing.

Solutions, however, will be harder to come by than was identifying the problems.

That's because the growth question is more complex than do we want growth or not. It isn't a choice; economic forces will fuel growth. How fast it comes depends on accelerants beyond our control.

But we can influence growth by anticipating and planning now to avoid future problems — and by developing strategies to solve the problems we've inherited from the past.

Two areas identified by Gillham and Hofmann are infill developments, where older neighborhoods with less-than-ideal infrastructure are built-out with modern houses; and edge development, where new homes go up on the edge of town.

Who pays for the improvements? To what standards should roads that were heretofore gravel be improved?

There are a host of questions here, and no doubt myriad opinions in our community.

This council or the next needs to open the floor to citizens to hear what they want.

Some will no doubt cry, "No growth!" Others will demand a Wal-Mart on every corner.

The future lies somewhere in between. We encourage the council to engage the citizens of Baker City to take this process seriously.