Infrastructure must be a priority

Infrastructure is often referred to as the backbone of a community. We take for granted the streets we drive on, the water that comes from our faucets, and the storm drains that keep our streets from flooding. We rarely think about infrastructure until it fails.

  • Tuesday, June 10, 2008 12:05am
  • Opinion

Infrastructure is often referred to as the backbone of a community. We take for granted the streets we drive on, the water that comes from our faucets, and the storm drains that keep our streets from flooding. We rarely think about infrastructure until it fails.

The fact is we are now behind on the basics. On our island, sections of roadways are eroding. Untreated stormwater runoff is transporting pollutants into the Puget Sound. Deteriorated underground pipes present the potential for sinkholes to open up in our roads. Inadequate water capacity presents a major fire hazard for downtown Winslow. This deficient infrastructure system that we count on every day is now our most urgent problem. (A major report released this week by the Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young revealed shocking statistics on the state of the nation’s infrastructure, showing us that we are not alone.)

Over the next few months, the city will develop its long-range Capital Facilities Plan. The city is required under the Growth Management Act to adopt a six-year plan to ensure there are adequate public facilities to serve its citizens. The cornerstone of the GM is a requirement that local governments provide their citizens with adequate and reliable infrastructure. Determining that “uncoordinated and unplanned growth” posed a threat to the state and its citizens, the Legislature created a framework that requires coordination between land use planning and provisions for capital facilities and infrastructure.

We must now piece together a workable plan. In the face of legal realities, diverse expectations in our community, and finite funding resources, it is imperative that we prioritize. Our Comprehensive Plan provides guidance; it requires that the city allocate resources to capital projects in the following order:

1) Major maintenance of existing facilities;

2) Elimination of existing deficiencies;

3) Provision of new or expanded facilities to accommodate new growth.

This approach ensures the city is making efficient use of its existing infrastructure, meeting our critical needs, complying with our legal requirements and responding to competing demands for finite financial resources. As a city, we have a legal obligation to ensure safe and adequate public facilities to meet our citizens’ existing needs. We also have a civic obligation.

When our infrastructure fails, it threatens our health and safety, destroys our community’s confidence in its government, and harms our quality of life. More than ever before, we need a clear understanding of our priorities and leadership to confront the most urgent challenges.

The city’s current financial situation presents an opportunity for us to step back and evaluate where we are and where we need to be. For years now, money available for infrastructure repairs has been impacted by several state-wide tax reform bills. Additionally, many of the grant and loan funds that cities depend on are underfunded. We cannot change these facts. We need to focus now on what we can change.

We need to address the disconnect between the resources the city can reasonably anticipate receiving and the promises made to fund projects, deliver services and support essential programs. And we should ask ourselves whether Bainbridge has been acting like a homeowner who spends an ever-increasing amount of his budget on operating costs, like groceries and eating out, ignoring the knocking furnace and the leaking roof.

It is time to focus on aligning our spending with critical city priorities and core infrastructure needs.

Hilary Franz is a first-term member of the Bainbridge Island City Council

More in Opinion

Steve Powell
2020 vision: Kitsap fared COVID-19 fairly well

Like the rest of the country, Kitsap County has been learning as… Continue reading

Working from home is here to stay

With COVID-19 vaccines being widely dispensed, will an end to this pandemic… Continue reading

Amazing grace: It’s easier to say it than live it

Without grace, our public discourse will continue to suffer. “Grace,” according to… Continue reading

Trans movement should not extend to athletics

Civil rights legislation always has its genesis in humanitarian principles: protecting the… Continue reading

A big step toward accountability for habitat impacts

Habitat loss and damage is the driving factor for the decline of… Continue reading

Wildfires were ‘Big Polluters’ in 2020

While the coronavirus and its devastating effects on people and economies worldwide… Continue reading

.
Slow down Chinese immigration for national security

A Chinese spy scandal is rocking Capitol Hill. The sordid tale is… Continue reading

Dr. Gib Morrow
All health care workers need to step up to vaccinate everyone

By Dr. Gib Morrow The first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine – a… Continue reading

Wreaths honor fallen, even during pandemic

Christmas is an especially difficult time for anyone grieving for lost loved… Continue reading

Most Read