Just What We Need: A Building at Frontier Park

Pardon me while I rant.

The people of Erie seem to know how to enjoy Frontier Park pretty well.  On a nice day, there may be cross country and track teams of all ages running.  There are bunches of kids on the playgrounds, tennis players, walkers, joggers, and other nature lovers.  In the winter, people go sledding there.  It seems like a nice outdoor park.  In fact, it is so nice that often it is hard to find parking.

So naturally, someone wants to put a building there.  Not just a few restrooms, which would be a big improvement on the port-a-potties that are there now.  Apparently, we also need a classroom, because we can’t just enjoy the outdoors; we have to be “educated” about them, and if kids are having a field trip at the park, they may need to go inside due to bad weather.  The building will also have restrooms and some office space for the L.E.A.F. (Lake Erie Arboretum Foundation).

The $ 1,000,000, as usual, is from state grants, so everyone can claim it is “free” money, and no one has to worry too hard about whether the building is needed, or is just on someone’s wish list.

Does the state really have so much excess money that it should spend another $1 million on something like this?  I thought we had a budget crisis at just about every level of national, state, and local government.  A million here, a million there, and pretty soon you have a substantial amount of money.  Is it just possible that we should wait until tax revenues are meeting expenses before spending money on things we have done perfectly well  without for the last few decades?

Also, is it really a good idea to build an office in the middle of the park?  There is plenty of empty office space in Erie, and it is located in already existing buildings where parking is already available.  On a snowy or icy winter day, the office in the park will be difficult to get to.

Finally, why can’t we just have an outdoor park where people do stuff outside?  Why does there have to be an “educational center?”  Wouldn’t it be better for people to enjoy the outdoors, rather than think they have to learn about it all the time?

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4 thoughts on “Just What We Need: A Building at Frontier Park

  1. What’s the governmental structure there? I have to confess that when I lived in Erie I never voted, let alone got politically active (shame on me, I know). Is there a separate park district board or is this under the city council?

    I have to agree with your rant, and until smaller municipalities start turning down funds like these we’ll never have true governmental and tax reform.

    So are you going to do something about it or just rant?

  2. James,

    There is almost certainly nothing I can do to stop this little waste of money. I was thinking of making this a letter to the editor instead of a blog post, and may still rework it into a letter. But the problem with that is that it has a 50% chance of being published, and a 100% chance of being edited.

    Hillman, If the building is named after a living politician, I hope some peasant, er, I mean citizen, defaces the name of the building, or draws a mustache on the face of the person it is named after. No living politician should EVER have a building named after them, and the people should react strongly whenever the politicians attempt to glorify themselves in that way.

  3. James, as far as I know, the Lake Erie Arboretum Foundation is an independent NGO, who just got handed a pile of money from the state. I don’t know if they need council approval to build in a city park — it’s possible that they have something like full sovereignty over the park within their charter, as long as they meet standard codes and so forth.

    This is a side effect of the Byzantine relationships that exist between “authorities,” “foundations,” and local government. Theoretically, it’s a city park, so you’d think the citizens of the city via their elected council could have some say in what goes on. But a lot of control for things like parks, and the Bayfront and the port area has been previously ceded to authorities, boards, and foundations of various kinds, so as long as they’re following building codes and zoning laws and all the things that apply to private property owners, they pretty much do what they want on what is allegedly public property, so long as there’s some Sugar Daddy government somewhere willing to fund it.

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