Visions of the future,or just hallucinations

This might sound silly, but I’ve started feeling sorry for the doves that were displaced when the old Silver Horseshoe bar was torn down.

The birds tend to wander around aimlessly, paired up in couples, looking for a new abandoned building to call home. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but they look slightly lost, with glazed over eyes. Kind of Alfred Hitchcock scary, actually.

In the meantime, the weather has allowed them to find shelter on other business rooftops and even atop homes in some residential areas. And eventually they’ll move on to find more hospitable housing.

That’s just one of the consequences when changes are made in the name of improvement.

Tearing down the old bar was not part of, but came directly on the heels of the American Falls Downtown Revitalization project, which has had a few unanticipated consequences now that it’s complete.

American Falls Mayor Marc Beitia and the city council have aggressively embraced a program aimed at moving the community forward. They continue having visioning sessions, where they brainstorm and make suggestions about where they want the city to be down the road. I like that spunk and commend the forward thinking attitude.

A friend, who has been a mover and shaker in this community for many, many years, commented to me that he hopes their visioning sessions aren’t really hallucinations. And he made some good points.

While the revitalization project has beautified the downtown by leaps and bounds, and I’m really liking it, there are going to be adjustments – some the city has planned for and others it might not have.

For example, because of ADA requirements for large turning radiuses on some corners, street snow removal in the winter could become tricky in some places. Rather than being able to plow straight ahead, some areas may require snow to be scooped, or just left piled up eliminating parking spaces. Those same oversized pedestrian ADA corners, as well as two that stick out on Idaho Street, are also taking some adjustment in driving habits for those of us who were used to driving the streets on autopilot. We’re going to have to pay a little closer attention, especially to the one across from the library that almost disappears into the roadway.

One consequence the city has planned for is some additional summer help to keep the newly landscaped areas mowed, cleaned and weed free. That will be nice, but it is an additional expense. Perhaps property owners should have a hand in that as well.

An unintended consequence that is still creating problems, apparently, is that the new water lines remain difficult to keep free of contaminants. The city has continually needed to flush the lines and add enough chlorine to the system that I smell it when I turn on the faucet and taste it when I drink it. It’s not the favorite ingredient I like added to my water.

Other accidents occur, too, like the accidental flooding of one downtown building that now must be almost totally stripped down to save and restore it from water and mold damage. The trouble there has been, it seems, neither the city nor the contractor, DePatco, wants to take the blame.

Now the city has received a grant to reroute and build a new access from the downtown area to Willow Bay Recreation Area. It was kind of a necessity since the only current access crosses busy railroad tracks. A little wait for the average person is no big deal, but when there is an emergency, the ambulance can’t afford to be stuck waiting for a passing train.

I like the idea, too, because it will open up access to a much larger area near the edge of the reservoir. It might even expedite development of expanded golf opportunities if the access includes some sort of cart path. (Before you non-golfers start screaming, I’m only offering that option based on the golf not becoming a bigger drain on the city’s coffers.)

Before they decide the exact route for the new road, though, it should be thought through carefully. If the new road connects right off Idaho Street it could turn a fairly hazardous intersection into an extremely hazardous one.

I know the highway bypass was built to expedite traffic around town, but one idea I still thinks deserves serious consideration is pushing seriously for the transportation department to slow traffic down on that road. Nobody should be in such a hurry that they can’t slow down a little bit. If they are, maybe next time they should leave a little earlier.

The council has taken some big steps and it appears more are in the works. I like that forward, progressive thinking. But like it or not, sometimes reality gets in the way of a vision, and it can create hallucinations.

Thanks for reading!

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