The View From Prospect Hill – August 14

On August 14, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

prospect hill

There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding the highly debatable pros and cons of the many city sponsored outdoor events taking place lately.

Many argue that the profuse number of street closures occurring to facilitate the foot races, festivals, etc., place too much of a burden on a significant number of residents who would rather see these events moved to other locations.

Some have said that the elderly and disabled, as well as general, public are unfairly inconvenienced when the streets are blocked off. They cite the relatively low turnout of participants for some of these events, and question their value in comparison to the trouble they seem to be causing so many.

Others criticize the cost to taxpayers from city funding of many of these events. Again, it is often noted that few residents are participating in many of the events, while costs for such things as event promotion, security and emergency services personnel, post-event cleanup, etc., are passed on to residents who may be completely disinterested in joining in.

Alternative proposals include moving certain events out of the streets and into other viable spaces such as parks and available open lots. Such an approach would allow for popular events to continue while eliminating the aggravation suffered by those who would rather not have their streets blocked off, it is argued.

Foot races would still need to run on city streets for the most part, but many believe that better planning could be utilized to minimize the amount of inconvenience suffered by affected residents.

Corporate sponsorship might be sought for partial or full funding of many of the events in question, thereby minimizing or even eliminating the city’s costs for these events.

In short, there are a lot of possibilities being discussed for improvement of what many consider a big problem in the city. An objective, dispassionate assessment of the issue needs to be made to weigh the benefits against the drawbacks of these events, and determine what, if anything, should be done about it.

Publicly sponsored events like these add to the cultural richness of a community. Few, if any, would wish for them to go away completely. The questions are how much is enough, how much is too much, and how best do we do these things?

Clearly, it would be in everyone’s best interests for a closer examination of the issue to be made by the city’s leadership, and a “best practices” strategy formulated and implemented.


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