Current weather conditions

Click for Dexter, Iowa Forecast

Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



It was as if the last economic downturn was simply everyone taking a collective breath, especially when you look at what is happening around these areas lately. It doesn’t take long to drive west out of Des Moines to notice what is happening although much of it is hidden in the hills and valleys between here and there. Urban sprawl, or creep as I like to call it, has begun again in full force and it makes me wonder how we best handle it.

In Waukee the building explosion continues with the leaders there looking at building another new high school. I’ve spent a little time in the new high school currently there and it makes every other school in the state look like a garden shed out behind the house. There are lessons to be learned there by what has been taking place, especially in the areas of community planning as there really isn’t a “downtown” to Waukee, although I will be the first to admit that I never looked at their “triangle” as much of a downtown area anyway. I can’t think of a person who is excited about the billion dollar computer building that is planned who has really asked what exactly it will be bringing to the feeling of community in that city. Are we simply going to end up being people who just live in our houses and not on streets and blocks and towns and feeling pride and being a part of them?

In Adel houses are going up at an incredible rate south of town and most every inch of ground between there and the town of DeSoto has been picked over and laid out in housing developments. The lesson to learn here is to be extremely diligent in how much of a tax abatement one offers for development. The back end costs of suppling city services and costs to the school district aren’t being covered by those moving into homes that won’t pay for those services for ten or fifteen years leaving the rest of the community to pick up the tab.

Father out we see not only development in the country but in town as well. I know of three older houses that are currently being rehabbed in this area, which is somewhat surprising to me, but it is nice to see that there is something to be said about trying to maintain some of the older architecture that small towns are known for. I wonder what those looking at development contemplate when deciding what to save and what to demolish and replace. Perhaps it is all tied up to money? Even homes that have been meticulously cared for over a century are being bulldozed simply because the ground they sit on is worth more money than one ever imagined.

Those communities on the fringes of the creep also need to have a plan to replace city services that have been cut in past years because of lack of revenue to support them. As much as we would like to hope that our small towns remain places of peace and community, it is not unthinkable that there will be a need for police, EMS and maintenance services. It is therefore necessary to be able to look towards the future and to actively pursue development that will fit within that plan and yet continue to allow our towns to grow and thrive. Maybe we lack dreamers and doers, or maybe there is a change in the way we view our towns that needs to be reevaluated as we look towards to the future. Certainly the thoughts and expectations of those who built in these communities over a century ago may not fit into the model of today, but I wonder if we need to be a little more forward thinking rather than just attempting to keep our communities simply afloat. Then again, that’s why I live in the country and have my own issues with the disappearance of the true farm community…but that certainly is a discussion for some other time. See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.