“What people need to realize is that when we talk about streets, quality streets, we are talking about jobs. Were talking about the ability to attract new businesses and for existing businesses to expand.”
-City Manager Huey Long
Thanks to the recent sub-freezing weather, Miami's streets are showing their age. Many of the streets are comprised of aging asphalt. Water is getting into the cracks and seeping into road base causing upheaval from underneath.
There are not many people who are more passionate about how important to rectify the problem with Miami's streets than City Manager Huey Long.
Long was out this past Thursday inspecting some of the damage inflicted by the recent inclement weather. The News-Record invited Huey Long in to get his thoughts on the condition of Miami's streets, as well as his take on Vance Ford's campaign to assist in repairing potholes around the city.
“We sincerely appreciate the efforts of Vance Ford”, said Long. “John Vance is a great supporter of this city. Has been, is, and will continue to be. We sincerely appreciate their effort to want to do something. What I really appreciate is the fact that it is doing something.”
“However, the reality of it is, ten or so thousand dollars verses a projected cost of several million dollars to do the work that is necessary in this city is a far stretch from the reality of resolving the issues.”
“What people need to realize is that when we talk about streets, quality streets, we are talking about jobs. Were talking about the ability to attract new businesses and for existing businesses to expand. Were talking about the ability of people to purchase a new or used car and not have the entire front end of it knocked out of alignment, or tires and or wheels ruined because of the present existing road conditions.”
“Before coming to Miami, I had been out of the state of Oklahoma for approximately six years, but I was in Oklahoma a number of years as a city administrator, so I am familiar with what can happen in Oklahoma. What concerns me now is the fact that if you look at all the cracks in the streets of this city, you would realize that an insurmountable amount of water has been penetrating through. When the temperature goes below freezing, you see the upheaval effect really taking a toll on the roads condition. This problem is creating a scenario where you cannot expect to go in and throw down a few shovels of asphalt and expect to make a considerable difference. Once that water has gotten in and spread, you are looking at damage that requires a total street reconstruction.”
“Our problem is an economic development condition. What I mean is, you talk about our children and grandchildren being able stay or come back to this area. If there are no new jobs, no business expansions to enjoy, then there will be no economy to return to.”
“As I was saying the other day, you can look throughout the state of Oklahoma. We have to ask ourselves some tough questions. Why are we lagging in new home construction when other communities are not? Why are we not growing at the rate other communities are? Why are communities that are located adjacent to a major interstate highway growing and we are not?”
“Those are the kinds of tough questions that are going to require us to be honest with ourselves. We have to ask ourselves 'Why'? When it has been said 'times are tough, it's too much to put on our people right now'? As a homeowner of this city, if the city makes a significant street improvement in front of your house, that would increase by ten to fifteen thousand dollars the property value of the home.”
“I realize we are considering asking the taxpayer for an additional half-cent to one cent tax rate increase, but the result would be better street infrastructure as well as increased real property values. Also, we would be creating an environment conducive to more economic development.”
“Next argument, times are tough and we just need to wait until it's better. Well then, I ask the question. Why was so little done on these streets when times were better, when sales tax was peaking, and business was booming? It's a matter of vision. We either choose to have the vision or we choose to not have the vision to do something and lift ourselves up by the bootstraps and do something. We need to make a positive, significant difference for the citizens of this city.”
“That's the battle were in right now. Are we willing to re-invest in this community? If we do not, within the next six to twelve months, make a significant decision to do something, my fear is that we are going to find ourselves in a position that will be impossible to ever catch up. With spring coming on, I am afraid we are going to see the most serious devastation that the streets of Miami have ever experienced.”
Although passionate about his personal convictions of what it will take to make a difference in our community, Long was very appreciative of the people of Miami, and of the Miami City Council.
“Seventeen months ago, I was hired as City Manager. It did not take me long to draw the conclusion that the council had inherited a huge infrastructure problem within the city. I cannot commend them enough for the hard work and dedication of the Miami City Council in addressing many of those issues to date,” stated Long.
Long added, “We have made significant advances together and I have full confidence that the elected officials will work together and come up with a comprehensive and effective plan to address the significant issues we face with our city streets. If we make the right decisions, and invest in our future, we should be able to make Miami a community we can really be proud of.”