Sunday, July 25, 2010

Manhattan Mayor Bill Borgo states arrival of Metra means "You're no longer considered in the boonies"

The Joliet Herald News ran an article on July 25, 2010 headlined "Metra SouthWest Line Keeps Saturday Service."  The article discussed funding for Saturday service on the Metra SouthWest Line.  The article also discussed the recessions impact on ridership, and then quoted Manhattan Mayor Bill Borgo as such:

"In the meantime, Manhattan Mayor William Borgo, who along with other mayors along the southwest corridor lobbied for Saturday service, said Manhattan's Metra station is a key piece of the tiny town's long-term planning. On any given day, about 40 cars can be spotted parked in the Metra lot, he said.

"When you get a Metra station, it means you've kind of arrived. You're no longer considered in the boonies," Borgo said. "No doubt as the years progress, this (line) will continue to thrive and to expand, and 30 years from now they'll say, 'Gosh, do you remember when only 40 cars parked here every day?' "

When I read the mayor's statement, my first thought was: "boonies"? Are you serious? Why use such an unaffectionate term for the rural area that exists to the south of Manhattan? If you go over to or any Chicago-area biking website, you will see that many people take the Metra to Manhattan in order to enjoy the "boonies" aka the Wauponsee Glacial Trail and the area around Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. They come to Manhattan to see some open-space and view the open area of Midewin as they ride or walk on the Wauponsee. I don't think many are coming to Manhattan to eat at Subway or Manhattan Family Restaurant. 

Call me old fashioned, but I really don't think some of the "development" aka empty buildings and empty residential lots growing up in weeds are better than rural landscape. And by the way, at least land in farmland is producing a property tax to the local tax base and producing grain that can be exported. I'm not sure if those foreclosed, belly-up platted-out subdivisions are contributing to the tax base or the larger economy.

I would hope a mayor from a town such as Manhattan, a town that has a long history as a farming town, would not use a term that suggests he does not value agriculture or open-space.

Furthermore, it suggests he may not realize Midewin and the bike path are resources unique to Manhattan--Midewin is the largest Federal Prairie east of the Mississippi--that could in the future serve as an economic engine. 

In a broader sense, maybe this negative attitude toward the rural landscape contributes to suburban sprawl and the housing boom we've seen over the last decade in Will County, aka, "Oh that's just the boonies, it will be SO MUCH BETTER when we have some strip malls and some McDonalds and a humungous Jewel and some Gas Cities, lots of Gas Cities." 

Video of the Manhattan Metra Station: