"Our community has gone ape-sh-- with unplanned development"
By W. D. Tom
I have no doubt the intent of "Proposition EPIC" -- the August 5 Fairground/parks tax -- is to bailout previous misplays by, and line the pockets of, our local Good-Ol’-Boy network. The fact that developer and Columbia business bigwig Tom Atkins bought 80 acres next to the Fairgrounds -- calling it a business deal -- suggests as much.
So does the EPIC float in the recent parade; and the 'Support EPIC' signs around town; and the glossy 'Vote EPIC' mailers; and all the on-air and newspaper publicity. The money being lavished on EPIC shows the powers-that-be really want to put the taxpayers on the hook for the Fairgrounds.
And why not? Paige Laurie's family -- the billionaire Columbia resident Wal-Mart heirs -- own virtually all the vacant land around the Fairgrounds -- 70 parcels that include a subdivision called Tuscany Ridge (click above photo for larger image). It's a typically ticky-tacky development surrounded by mostly empty fields waiting not-so-patiently to be developed, as the Lauries continue a Wal-Mart tradition of extracting money from small communities.
If the Good Ol' Boys (and Paige) want anything this bad, then I’m against being forced to support it. Since the land around the Fairgrounds will soon be developed to its limits, let the developers pay to make it a subdivision amenity. Their escapades should not be publicly financed.
I understand capitalism assumes continuing, infinite growth. However, since the planet is finite, unplanned, unfettered growth ultimately leads to major FAILS.
The Columbia I remember from just 15 years ago was doing a decent job of growing slowly and keeping itself under reasonably good control, while its leaders at least tried to listen to its citizens.
But of late, our community has gone ape-shit with unplanned development. Every corner and every street is overloaded with endless GROWTH (ain’t it wonderful?) We must now plan our days around trying to miss near-constant traffic jams. Drive around what used to be the outskirts of Columbia, and you'll find ever-more apartments, quadriplexes, cheaply-built single family homes, and of course, big box retailers like Wal-Mart.
We've adopted a "Field of Dreams" development approach: "If we develop it, they will come." So just jam 'something' into every open field. And there are plenty of open fields around the Fairgrounds.
In the meantime, we've changed from a community of people striving to maintain and grow a livable city to a haven for wealthy Good-Ol’-Boys interested only in making more money for themselves.
On August 5, I will vote against this EPIC disaster and longstanding mess, hoping the 15-year Fairgrounds debacle finally dies a natural death (with a Do Not Resuscitate order to end further waste of local taxes on this Field of Developers' Dreams).
-- Mr. Tom is a reader who thanked the Heart Beat for "keeping us up-to-date on the local political BS and its purveyors". He also supplied the photos.