Thank you taxpayers

This is not satire or cynicism: Thank you taxpayers. 

For the last few months I’ve been watching with glee as construction
crews do their thing at a heavily traveled interchange, now nearly
complete.  The improvement involves a new
walk/run/bike access point to the Olentangy Trail, beginning on the north side
of the Olentangy River Rd/Bethel Rd intersection, running east over a newly
dedicated bike lane on the Bethel Rd bridge over Route 315, curving down and
around through a newly installed culvert under the northbound on ramp to Route 315
leading directly onto the trail.  If that’s
hard to picture, you’ll have to come take a look yourself. 

As someone who just moved a half mile from that intersection,
who likes to run and commute by bike to church as much as I’m able, it feels
like a personal gift.  For me?  Thank you! 
It cuts a 5.5 mile commute up through the Antrim Lake bike path access
point down to 4.0 miles, also reducing the distance on a busy road.  Hopefully it opens up options for multiple forms
of transportation for everyone in an area originally built for cars alone. 

According to the Dispatch,
this project, which includes a widening of the Olentangy Trail from that
connector point up to Antrim Lake, costs $3.1 million, with the majority coming
from federal funding and $500,000 from the city of Columbus.  I’m not sure what the tax paying population
is in Columbus, but it amounts to more the $1 but less than $2 per person.  Once again, thank you.

As happy as I am about this, I’m also aware that this is a
more affluent part of town, and that public investments skew toward areas
already doing well.  The Dispatch also
just ran a series
on Sullivant Avenue through the West side
, noting “Nowhere in Columbus is there
an area more plagued with prostitution and drug abuse.”  Whether reacting to the series, or whether
the series was timed with announcements already in the works, city
leaders have named this corridor a top priority
for public investment. 

Most conversations about taxes put them in a negative light.  But taxes can also serve the common good.  How amazing is it that every adult in the city can pitch in a buck and change and we can pay workers to create a beautiful new extension of a bike path?  Or that, together, we can increase safety and critical services in a hurting part of the city?  As someone with three children in public schools I’m grateful to those whose kids have graduated, or who don’t have children, who still contribute toward the education of children.

To slightly shift the focus but keep it in the same local ballpark, this coming Tuesday, November 5, is election day.  In Franklin County we’ll vote on a levy renewal to fund Children’s Services, and in Columbus we’ll vote on four City Council members out of eight candidates – the people who make decisions about where local taxes get spent.  As frustrating as the national political scene is these days, local governments still have power to make decisions that directly positively impact people’s lives. 

Happy trails,