It would seem that there is a bit of earnest competition on the City Council regarding the eventual fate of our beloved Skilled Nursing Facility. And while everyone understands that something needs to be done, there could now very well be two schools of thought on the matter. The first says that the Skilled Nursing Facility would provide an essential service to the people of Sierra Madre if it was turned into an Urgent Care Center. The demographics of this town trend decidedly older, with more than 36% of the folks living here at age 50 or above. And with nearly 12% over 70! But also, and equally important, 10% of our population is comprised of accident prone small children.
That a city of this size should be without an Urgent Care Center really is a bit of an embarrassment. And as good as our paramedics are, that extra 10 to 15 minutes it now takes to get a patient in crisis to a medical facility could mean the difference between living and dying. And our esteemed Skilled Nursing Facility is already configured for most medical requirements, and could easily (and quickly) be transformed into just such a place.
Seems pretty logical, right? But John Buchanan, who in the past has shown small concern for much beyond redevelopment, might actually be pushing a decidedly different agenda here. And what would that be? Could be the same thing as the last time. Allowing some really large development downtown.
The brainstorm making the rounds says that we should build a big new Library on the Skilled Nursing site, and then give the land where our existing Library stands to the developer currently allowing the SNF to so poignantly decay. A "Land Swap" if you will. But don't we already have a Library? Seems pretty nice to me, and I know my kids like it. So why would we need to tear it down, build another one up the street, and then let the Dark Knight of Blight build a rack of condos in its place? What did he ever do to deserve such a reward?
Another consideration. This is a cash strapped community, and the costs of maintaining our current Library are edging upwards towards $900,000 a year. Remember when there was talk of shuttering the Library because we just couldn't pay for it anymore? So can we really afford to foot the bill for an even larger building? And the redevelopment propaganda du jour - GREEN! - is not going to impress anyone familiar with the Top 20 Failed Green Technologies, Designs & Innovations outlined on the always enjoyable WebEcoist site. Being the guinea pigs for some new air conditioner and insulation technologies is probably not in our best interest. And such innovations could end up costing us a lot more than advertised. If it's really all that important I'm sure we can put some nice solar panels on the roof of the old one.
But listen, even if it isn't John that is floating this nonsense, you do know it has to be for the same old reason, right? And that would be money. Because it's always about money. Under this plan we're talking about two big new development projects, and the cash to be made from building them. Rather than giving Sierra Madre the medical facility we really need, all this plan would do is take care of the usual suspects.
Of course, the question remains who exactly would fund this twin pack of boondoggles. There just isn't much borrowing cash around these days, right? Maybe some grant money, but how far will that go? But look, that's probably why it was brought up at a special City Hall meeting dedicated to figuring out how to get our hands on some of that $800 billion dollars in borrowed capital Washington is about to ladle out. Sad to think that the taxpayer's hard earned dough might be funneled into projects as poorly conceived as this "Land Swap" fiasco.
We have an election coming up in a little more than a year. What do you say we let the voters decide? New library and condos, or an Urgent Care Center. Put it on the ballot and let Sierra Madre make the call. I think you know what the result would be.