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Editorial: Some government projects are worth the money

The debate about how much money government should spend, and for what projects, has already been a hot topic at Republican Party presidential candidate debates. And that debate is likely to get only more intense as the calendar flips further into this presidential election year.

His political opponents portray President Barack Obama not merely as a tax-and-spend liberal, but as socialist hell-bent on destroying the free enterprise system in this country. Nevertheless, in his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, Obama said he believed as Abraham Lincoln believed — that government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.

Two projects that affect the Westshore and are in need of funding fit Obama’s and Lincoln’s criteria for government funding. The first is the redevelopment of the NASA Glenn property on the north side of Brookpark Road, within Fairview Park’s borders. Once home to NASA employees, the main building there now is only used by contractors. The continued economic vitality of that property is essential to the financial health of Fairview Park.

A company has a proposal to redevelop the property, but says it is economically unfeasible for it to pay up to $7 million for the environmental remediation required for a complete makeover of the main building at the site. City officials are seeking government funding from a variety of sources to pay for the remediation work.

A libertarian may say that if a private, for-profit company wants to make money from the project, that company should take the risks, including the remediation costs, instead of seekng governnment help. But the reality is, more than three years into the worst recession in 70 years, it’s still a buyer’s market when it comes to commercial real estate. The risk of the government not getting involved is that the Brookpark Road buildings will be vacant, thus cutting off a needed source of income tax revenue from Fairview Park.

As Fairview Park officials have said, the federal government was responsible for putting the site in the condition it’s in; therefore, it should be part of the solution.

Many conservatives agree that tax dollars spent to encourage economic activity are well-spent. This is an instance where public funding would help ensure a stream of income tax revenue for Fairview Park for years to come.

The second area project worthy of government funding is the Inner Belt Bridge project, which Westshore residents use to get to downtown Cleveland.

Earlier this month, officals with the Ohio Department of Transportation said money for a second Inner Belt Bridge may not be available until 2023. Previous governors overpromised what projects the state could afford, officials said.

State officials need to prioritize the projects they’ve scheduled. If they do that, the second Inner Belt Bridge, which carried I-90 to downtown, should be near the top of that list.

 

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