Essential vs. optional

Published 9:46 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

A long-range plan to revitalize Franklin neighborhoods is a good thing, but city officials should feel no sense of urgency about spending the $60,000 that a committee says it needs to write the plan.

In a challenging economy, government leaders, like families and business owners, must distinguish between expenditures that are essential versus those that are optional. The revitalization plan clearly rates as optional.

Franklin’s residential neighborhoods are, for the most part, vibrant and viable. Pockets along the South Street corridor could use some redevelopment, but residents there, curiously, are among the most skeptical about the revitalization process. Some have complained that the city wants to gentrify their neighborhoods. We’re not sure that’s a bad thing, but we also recognize that, without grassroots support, any revitalization plan is likely to fail.

The lack of urgency for a $60,000 “needs assessment” stems primarily from the soft economy. Revitalization, done correctly, will be driven by the private sector, not government. And significant private investment in real estate is unlikely until the national housing economy begins to rebound. We hope that happens sooner rather than later, but most signs point to a drawn-out recovery.

Under the circumstances, it’s best that work on a master revitalization plan be suspended until the city is better positioned to fund it.