The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 22, 2013

Don't spend without reason

The Commercial-News

---- — Danville City Council members learned Tuesday they could not redirect almost $2 million in state funds earmarked to remove or significantly change two dams — one in Ellsworth Park on the North Fork and one on the Vermilion River near the Public Safety Building.

If the city doesn’t use the money as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources intended, it will go to another community.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Sometimes, engineers and bureaucrats can be an expensive combination. Instead of searching for a pragmatic solution to a problem, the two tend to propose projects designed to address any potential situation, no matter how rare it might be.

The dam near the PSB can, at times of high river levels, be dangerous. Any loss of life is tragic. But there could be simpler ways to warn canoeists of potential hazards without spending $2 million in taxpayer dollars.

Just because money is available doesn’t mean a project is a worthwhile undertaking.

The state’s letter should cause city officials to stop and look at the situation from a practical standpoint. Is it needed? Will it help? Could there be unintended consequences?

Spend the money for a reason, not just because it’s there.