I hope that all of you who live in Peabody took a few moments to read the bulletin that was sent to you with your city water bill. It had to do with an important gathering planned for April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Ann Potter room of Peabody Township Library.
Many of you have concerns about the quality of life in Peabody, where we are headed, how to fix our water delivery system, maintain a good and wholesome place to raise and educate young families, and pay for the many services we need to be a prosperous and forward looking community.
Lofty goals, but as usual someone will have to pay for those things. It is hard for towns this size to carry the financial burden of sustaining it all.
The city’s committee for economic development, Peabody Main Street, Peabody Proud group, and individuals who want the community to move forward have joined forces to provide a program that hopefully will give us some direction about sustaining and advancing our community. Economic development is no longer just making your community a destination spot for people who arrive with cameras, but do not spend a dollar. It is no longer about what happened 100 years ago, although those historic elements are a part of every community. We have no beaches or mountains to promote so we have to promote something else — small town living.
People settle in small towns like ours because they are rural by choice. Our kids can be in student council, band, adventure club, sports, FFA, art, and forensics. Every year, if they choose, they can try it all. You are here because you do not want to battle the rush hour traffic in Wichita or Tulsa or Kansas City. You are here because there is something to be said for knowing that your neighbor has your back and knows who should be around your house or garage and who has no business being there. You are here because of the good things Peabody offers.
By the same token, small towns like Peabody have many issues that make thinking outside the box difficult. Hiking the mill levy to pay for expanded essential services, bond issues to keep a school system up to date and in compliance with government mandates, grassroots fundraising for quality of life issues like a community swimming pool or park maintenance all have supporters who are willing to pay for such things. However, there also are residents who would rather have better curb and guttering, fewer dollars spent on police and fire protection, or consolidation with one or more school districts to reduce the amount of money we spend on kids who will leave here anyway.
What to do? Perhaps it would be good if the community would gather and begin a discussion about how to go about this.
The letter that accompanied the April Peabody water bill spelled it out pretty well. “It is an informal get together for us to talk about how to sustain our community.” That is it — there are no right or wrong answers. However, it is time to begin a discussion of priorities, gather some ideas for positive change, and perhaps find some answers. If we do not start, we will never take the next step or the one after that.
Please take the time to attend the meeting and share your thoughts on April 28th.