Greenville looks toward its future

Published 10:48 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday’s organizational meeting for the Greenville City Council and Mayor Dexter McLendon represented moments of reflection for those involved in city government. Friends and family gathered in the council chambers, congratulating McLendon and the five council members – Jean Thompson, Tommy Ryan, Jeddo Bell, Ed Sims and James Lewis – who will represent the Camellia City for the next four years.

On the eve of a historic Presidential election, Monday’s meeting was a chance to enjoy the successes of the past while looking forward to the future.

Undoubtedly, the Greenville these six individuals are presented with today looks vastly different from the Greenville of four years ago.

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But there are challenges ahead. Major challenges. We applaud the job of this council and this mayor these past four years, but we also know there are still many concerns for the future. Housing sales are at an all-time low and oil prices continue to fluctuate on a month-to-month basis, while sales tax – the lifeblood of any municipal government – has dropped considerably.

Some issues for the mayor and council to consider these next four years:

Downtown Greenville: An economy that has sapped consumer spending is likely to hurt downtown Greenville even more. Undoubtedly, the city’s growth lies along I-65, but the Camellia City’s charm is in its local merchants who have invested their money in a city they believe in. People we all know. People we all grew up with. Everyday acquaintances. We can’t go back to the yesteryear of a heavily populated Commerce St., but downtown revitalization needs to be addressed these next four years.

The Drug Problem: Yes, we have one. Yes, the state has one. Yes, the entire nation has one. The police in Greenville have done a good job, but no amount of manpower will ever completely rid the city of drugs. It’s the basic laws of supply and demand. People want it, so therefore there will be people to supply it. Does this mean we should quit fighting the fight? Definitely not. Our police are on the front lines of this war and the city should increase the amount of resources available to the police department.

Industry: Greenville benefited greatly when the Hyundai plant located in Montgomery, but the employment ripple created when it dropped into our local pool is almost wearing off. Like the majority of the nation Butler County’s unemployment rate has taken a turn for the worse. It’s unknown just how much this area will benefit from ThyssenKrupp Steel when it’s all said and done, but we should strive to attract the best paying jobs available for our citizens.

Housing: Affordable housing for single individuals and families is a necessity. Growth is good, but without the people to spend money in these businesses, what’s the point? The time and effort put into constructing and establishing a business is wasted, because there are no people to support it.

These are but four issues the current administration will be facing in the next four years. We look forward to watching the progression of Greenville, because as Mayor McLendon put it on Monday night, “this truly is a special place.”