In last week’s column entitled, “A Tiger or the East West Corridor a gamble is still a gamble,” the Ole Seagull described a meeting of the Taney County Commission that was going to be held for the sole purpose of deciding on whether or not to apply for a federal stimulus grant for $25 million. The grant, if received, would be used solely to build the East West Corridor Road.
He described the meeting as “an attempt to move the project forward by its supporters without any study showing that the project is actually a priority transportation need for Taney County.” He went on to say “He also believes it is an attempt to minimize the effectual involvement from those who might be opposed to the project until such a priority is determined.”
Although he still believes that to be true, the fact of the matter is that not one person attended the meeting to speak in opposition to applying for the grant. Many voices spoke in favor of not only applying for the grant but for building the road, grant or not grant, but one voice that had a lot of weight for the Ole Seagull was that of Frank Preston, Taney County’s Administrator for Roads and Bridges. He said that the East West Corridor road is critical structure for the development of Taney County.
Although the Ole Seagull originally spoke against the action without completion of a county transportation study prioritizing its transportation needs, he had to admit that he was evidently the only one who felt that way because everyone else was not only in favor of applying for the grant but presented compelling logical and emotional reasons for doing so. When it became clear that all that was being discussed was whether or not to gamble $50,000 in the hopes of getting $25 million to get a road built that the County Road and Bridge Administrator, whose judgment, the Ole Seagull trusts, says is critical it became a no brainer.
And a gamble it is. It is certainly not a sure bet like the results of the revote on the assessment at Point Royale will be, but it qualifies Taney County to play the “Wheel of Grant Game” and continue on to see if it can win the prize of $25 million. In a practical sense the $50,000 is an “application fee” that must be paid by Sep. 15.
That keeps Taney County in the game and in a position where it can evaluate its competition for the available grant funds and its chances for eventually getting the grant. The reason that evaluation is so important is that to get from the application to an actual decision on whether or not Taney County will get the grant will cost another $400 to $450,000. Whereas the $50,000 “application fee” to keep Taney County in the game for the $25 million was a no brainer the next step, the decision to gamble up to another $450,000 is not!
To an Ole Seagull, the decision to continue playing the “Wheel of Grant” game past Sep. 15 doesn’t depend on what was done by County Commission back in 1995, personalities, what the voters allegedly voted for in Feb. of this year, rhetoric about how much it is needed or even how great the odds are in favor of Taney County getting the grant. To him it will depend solely on the determination of the County’s Transportation Committee as to the priority of the East West Corridor compared to the rest of Taney County’s transportation needs.
It is a travesty that no recommendations have been forthcoming from the committee in terms of Taney County’s Transportation needs and priorities. No it’s a joke, a sad pathetic joke. If the people that are on the committee don’t feel a sense of urgency or are incapable of making a recommendation, for whatever reason, then they should either be replaced or the committee disbanded. Either way, the citizens of Taney County should know what priority the East West Corridor plays in Taney County’s transportation picture before another penny is spent.