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Million-dollar boat docks at The Harbor a bad idea during tough economic times

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Editorial Opinion by J.J. Smith. I’ve heard a lot of talk around town between people questioning the Rockwall City Council’s 6-0 decision Oct. 19 to invest nearly $1 million dollars into increasing the number of boat docks at The Harbor from the current nine to 35-40.

Construction is expected to be completed during the summer of 2010.

While I’ll admit that I haven’t taken the time to closely review the budget – which I’m about to do – I have to add my voice to those who think a million dollars for more boat docks is a bad idea right now, particularly during this time of economic hardship for so many families and organizations.

I’m personally disappointed with the Rockwall City Council for approving such a measure.

For example, the Rockwall Boys & Girls Club desperately needs $50,000 immediately to just keep its doors open. If the City Council really wants to invest where it’s needed, how about paying that amount and more to put the non-profit organization on better economic footing? Since opening here a couple of years ago, nearly 200 children daily now attend the Club after school. If the Club closes, where will these children go?

National crime statistics show the majority of juvenile crime is committed after school, when many parents are working. The Boys & Girls Club helps prevent crime by offering children a safe place after school to hang out with friends, do their homework, learn about a variety of things, plus develop their talents and interests – with the help of volunteer mentors.

The Club even holds pizza parties and stays open late Fridays until 10 pm, so parents can go out on a date once in a while. That’s good for marriages and might just help prevent some divorces.

Another organization which needs funding is the Women In Need women’s shelter office in Rockwall. An average of five women a day – local domestic violence victims – seek counseling and assistance from WIN’s office in the Helping Hands medical facility. But WIN, based in Greenville, is paying about $50,000 per year to staff and operate it – including paying $500 per month for rent there.

No Rockwall funds are currently used to operate the office, from what I understand from WIN’s Executive Director Roger Robertson. And WIN generates most of its income by operating three resale shops in Greenville.

So Rockwall only has an office for domestic violence victims, thanks to the people who purchase items from Hunt Co. resale shops. That’s crazy! Rockwall can definitely afford to pay for an office to help abuse victims.

And then there’s always Helping Hands, the city’s and county’s designated agency for helping those in need. The food pantry is bare right now. How about taking at least a few thousand dollars to pay for some more food for city residents who are out of work or ill?

Yes, The Harbor probably does need more boat docks, so more boaters can party there during Summer concerts, and so more boaters can eat at restaurants there.

And I probably need to better understand what the City can and can’t do with tax dollars.

But I just think there are many better places to invest Rockwall’s tax dollars right now.

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7 Responses for “Million-dollar boat docks at The Harbor a bad idea during tough economic times”

  1. Rockwall Voter says:

    There are many areas of the community that could benefit from the nearly $1 mil. to be spent at The Harbor. It is a poor decision on the part of the council. In tough economic times, our city should search for ways to improve the quality of its community by assisting existing functional programs (Ex: Boys & Girls Club). I have found, in my many years of living in Rockwall and following local “public servants”, that most are concerned with two things: (1) re-election and (2) seeking higher office. Most of the council members might listen to the constituents and overturn that vote. That’s probably your best means of getting to Mayor or some other County-wide office. You would think that many of the “public servants” would take advantage, politically, of the tough economic times in taking the opportunity to actually do something for the community for which they were elected to serve.

  2. Cat says:

    One of the reasons I recently moved to Rockwall is that the city does invest in municipal improvements. The Harbor and the revitalization of downtown as well as the improved road work projects are worthwhile efforts that provide employment opportunities for many. After living in Garland for 20 plus years, Rockwall citizens have a fabulous city council by comparison. The City of Garland spent so much money on entitlement programs, not to mention the public funding of a Day Labor center and one drive through downtown Garland will show you how that all worked out!

  3. Judy says:

    The boat docks at the Harbor are the least of the Harbors problem..possibly try getting a business to stay, improve the idiotic parking, give us a reason to go to the Harbor…what a total waste of my taxpayer money..The city and the Harbor should look at the booming Bass Pro Shop area..hard to even find a parking spot with the booming businesses.

  4. rocco says:

    It is my understanding that the million dollar job was NOT put up for bid, and was awarded to a business owned by a family member of one of the council members in closed session. Can you say “hello Texas Attorney General investigation”?????? If this turns out to be true, I hope the citizens vote these bums out and push for full prosecution.

  5. morgan says:

    I don’t know why the docks weren’t constructed correctly the first time. Rockwall seems to like to waste taxpayers money….like the new road they just built through downtown. Narrow, winding, dangerous. The 66 intersection is a joke, too much traffic, cars blocking intersection, long back ups, tractor trailers have no room to turn. Who hires these people, they certainly are not thinking.

  6. BobC says:

    While I concur that those three agencies (and others as well) could always benefit from additional funding, there are certain state laws that mandate how public money can be utilized … and none of these qualify. Municipal funds can be utilized for municipal purposes only … and the docks at the Harbor are municipally owned and must be maintained with available municipal funds.

    As to the three organizations cited in the original comment … they are all three very deserving and deserve community support. I know numerous folks who have contributed to the Boys and Girls Club and to Helping Hands. Perhaps a few more contributions others in the community would go a long way to helping them meet their mission goals. Rather than complain about things we should all GET INVOLVED !!!!!

  7. Jen says:

    Great story. The people who approved the boat docks and the people who use them all live in a bubble called their own little world. The community outreach programs you mentioned have no effect on these folks therefore are not on the priority list for them.

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