We are about 60 days from the Silver Line millage election which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5. And I’m starting to get a little nervous. So, I must warn you now that I may be repeating myself often over the next nine weeks.
Yikes! Only nine weeks to election day! So much to do and so little time. On paper, the task is easy – get a majority of voters to say, “Yes” to the Silver Line Millage. But that’s on paper and I’m getting nervous.
Unfortunately, we’re all a bit nervous these days. Times are tough. There is no doubt about that. The daily doses of economic statistics often make me wonder when the end will be in sight. Some economists say the 3rd quarter of this year; others point with more hope to 2010. But these are national economists. The Michigan folks are looking for a little relief after the national rebound. So, no matter which prognosticator you prefer, the economy will not be our friend on May 5.
How can any one seek a tax increase in this climate?
Of course, you know the answer to that question–we are seeking a tax increase this year because we have an awesome opportunity to capture $40 million in federal and state dollars in order to build the first rapid transit line in Michigan.
But while the economy may not be our friend this time around, that does not mean the economic arguments have failed us as well. Rather, most sets of facts and figures I look at are clearly in our corner.
Some might even label this election, “New Opportunities for Community Growth.”
Jobs. The Silver Line will create 405 new and permanent jobs (direct and indirect) with an average annual wage of $37,000.
Economic Impact. The economic return on investment is projected to be 400%; similar systems have seen returns as high as 1000%.
Connectivity. Located along South Division and wrapping around St. Mary’s, GRCC and the Medical Mile back through downtown by the convention center and arena, the Silver Line will link residents with medical facilities, college campuses and neighborhood commerce centers.
Development. Areas along the route have already seen private and public interest toward growth in housing, commercial development and parks.
Convenience. The estimated time travel from 60th Street to the Medical Mile is 27 minutes-factor in the circuitous travel around a parking ramp, then the walk to the front door and the Silver Line will clearly be competitive with driving yourself.
Fund Availability. The Silver Line is the first project of its kind in Michigan. As noted above, there is money in Washington and Lansing with our names on it. A “Yes” vote on May 5th secures this funding and opens the door to future transit opportunities.
So, there’s good news to be spread about the Silver Line in spite of these tough times! (More details at: http://www.ridetherapid.org/about/great-transit.) And when the going gets tough, the tough have a meeting. That is, the clear thinking tough people get together and chart a course (http://rapidyes.org/informational-meeting.htm). That’s what we’re planning on doing on Tuesday, March 10 at noon. Come join the other Friends of Transit at LaGrave Church (107 LaGrave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503) to (1) learn more about the Silver Line, (2) learn that it’s legal for all types of organizations and churches to be involved in this type of campaign and (3) learn what Friends of Transit has in store by way of activities and how you can help to get a majority YES vote on May 5. We promise we’ll have you out in an hour or less!
In addition to attending this informational meeting, mark your calendar for Tuesday, March 24 at 5:00pm at Tommy Brann’s Restaurant. Come on out along the Silver Line route in Wyoming for the kick off celebration for the Silver Line millage. (I’ll be repeating more details as the date draws nearer.)
Finally, as far as the redundant campaign items go, don’t forget to complete an endorsement form and then forward this message to every one in your address book.
As for a couple new items, first, did you notice that this piece now gets uploaded to a blog? Check out: https://friendsoftransit.wordpress.com/. You too now have a forum for comments, critiques and random thoughts that pop into your consciousness about transit after reading through these weekly e-newsletters or any other time.
Second, if the thought of blogging has you looking for a more concrete way to let your opinion be known, head to the survey being conducted by the West Michigan Transit Linkages Study. The news of this study is redundant, but the survey is new. Head to www.westmichigantransitsurvey.info and let your opinions on West Michigan connectivity be known! And it might even be profitable–The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council has graciously offered several $25 gift certificates as an incentive for respondents to make it all the way to the end of this brief survey.
All for today.
P.S. Thanks to all from Friends of Transit for their help in the drafting of the “New Opportunities for Community Growth” section above.