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Spotsylvania saves the sidewalks
SPOTSYLVANIANS who support the transformation of their county seat into a place more navigable by shoe leather than vulcanized rubber are suddenly giddy with that special joy that springs from surprise.
Following an August Board of Supervisors vote, these citizens probably thought that building the final half-mile of sidewalks in the ongoing Courthouse Streetscape Project would require donations of cement blocks, much as individuals buy engraved bricks to help fund private charities. Putting one's name on a hunk of concrete seemed the only way left to finish the pro-pedestrian makeover in the county's heart after a board majority branded construction of those walkways a virtual un-American activity.
At Tuesday's meeting, however, two supervisors commendably backtracked. Now, apparently, the historic courthouse area's final sidewalks--funded by a $1.27 million federal grant augmented by $317,000 from the county--will be open for strolling, sashaying, meandering, etc. in 2014. Losing on the revote were Supervisors Timothy McLaughlin, David Ross, and Paul Trampe--gentlemen who last month remarkably rejected the federal gift as unclean pork. On Tuesday, Mr. McLaughlin reiterated, "It's taxpayers' money, and if we don't change the way we do business in this country, we're going to go broke."
True enough. But the $1.27 million wouldn't have reverted to Uncle Sam. It likely would have funded infrastructure in a less high-minded community--or maybe just one far enough from the D.C. Beltway that its political leaders, unbestupored by ideological vapors, don't confuse themselves with U.S. congressmen.
In any case, kudos to Supervisors Ann Heidig and Emmitt Marshall, who changed their votes. As the former suggested, to complete the project is to invest in the Historic Courthouse District's future. Sidewalks are rivers of healthy human interaction along whose enriched banks good things, from conversation to commerce, grow.
On the switcheroo, it's true, Mrs. Heidig lost style points for partly blaming her first vote on county staff, who tardily noted that the county's $317,000 piece of the project could mostly be covered by basically dedicated accounts. However, 'tis a poor workman who blames his tools, and staff are the tools of the supervisors. Mrs. Heidig and her peers should have been on these elementary funding issues months ago; in any case, it is death on subordinates' morale to dress them down in public.