Our View: $8,000 engraving project frivolous

Our View
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What could $8,000 pay for? Ask someone struggling in this economy and they could probably rattle off a list of necessities they can barely afford. But ask some Auburn City Council members and they will tell you it’s a good deal to engrave tiles in the newly remodeled Downtown area. Recently councilmen Keith Nesbitt and Mike Holmes and Mayor Bridget Powers signed off on spending that chunk of change to engrave names in cement pavers that were installed as part of the Streetscape renovations in Downtown Auburn. The council says it does not yet know whose names will be engraved and Nesbitt added that the Streetscape History and Art Advisory Committee would mull over what will fit. Councilman Mike Holmes said he’d like to see the names of Central Square’s founders put into the ground. The committee and council should specify which names they want to engrave and why. Councilman Kevin Hanley cast a dissenting vote, saying he thought there were better ways for the city to showcase its history. We agree. The money for the engraving work will come out of the city’s Urban Development Authority, which takes a percentage of property taxes paid by Auburn residents and puts them toward city projects. But can’t that $8,000 be put toward other Streetscape costs? Overall the city has a 10-phase plan to renovate Downtown and Old Town Auburn. Officials said that they would start each phase as money becomes available. Could that $8,000 be put toward the budget for a future phase? If it can only be used on phase one, then it would be better spent toward the purchase of a sculpture or statue to fill the large and currently empty pedestals. Even if our local economy wasn’t strapped for funding, etching names into tiles that people will mostly walk over without giving a second glance seems frivolous. The city and Streetscape committee should put the engraving project on hold and take a look at what else the $8,000 could buy.