Categories Op/Ed

Editorial: Citizens Need to Speak Up About Local Government

Quite a few people approached the editor of this newspaper to question the wisdom of a proposed renovation of a historic building on North Market Street to preserve it and make it into Elizabethtown Borough’s administrative offices. An architect told the Borough Council that the work would cost about $1.8 million; he said turning the existing building that serves as a police station and the borough’s administrative offices into a larger, modern police station would cost about $1.2 million. Combined, that’s about $3 million.

And to say that people decided “to question the wisdom” of these plans is quite an understatement. When speaking privately, people have used much harsher language; one even spoke of the Borough Council members as “little dictators.” Alternate ideas included knocking down the historic building and erecting something brand-new.

But what happened two weeks after the architect gave the cost estimate to the Borough Council? Borough Manager Roni Ryan reported that she had not gotten any public comment on the proposal.

Come on, citizens. The Borough Council members are not some nefarious secret society plotting out ways to raise our taxes. They are ordinary citizens who decided to take an interest in the borough’s affairs. When members of the public show up at their meetings, they thank the citizens who show up to observe, and they give every indication of being sincere in those thanks.

Do you feel strongly about the plans to renovate the building? Do you think preserving the historic building is a waste of money and it should be replaced with some prefabricated structure on the cheap? Do you think historic preservation is important enough that we should restore the building back to its long-ago appearance, even if it costs us more? Do you have some other idea of what can be done with the historic building other than making it into borough offices?

If you have an opinion about this, or any other borough business, the best way to be heard is to show up at the Borough Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, at 600 S. Hanover St.; there is a public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. Show up and give them a piece of your mind. If you can’t make it to the meeting, sending a letter to the editor of this newspaper is another good way to be heard.

For democracy to work properly, citizens need to get involved. How are the borough officials supposed to know what you think if you don’t tell them?

The preceding editorial is the opinion of The Elizabethtown Advocate. Other opinions on this page are those of individual contributors. The Advocate aims to give its readers a wide variety of opinions.

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