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  • Last modified 1224 days ago (July 9, 2015)

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Making a rec of things

Leadership has never been in oversupply in Marion County — which is why, at a time when ideas like courthouse additions are floated one week, only to crash like the Hindenberg the next, it’s refreshing to see an initiative like the relocated food bank begin to win area-wide support.

Providing an easier way for those in need to obtain donated and surplus food isn’t exactly controversial, though displacing a youth center to make it a reality was. Drawing initial support only from key groups and volunteers within Marion, the food bank now seems likely to attract at least a modicum of support from the county and neighboring communities.

That’s what leadership is about: having an idea and sticking with it, even when others aren’t yet on board, then proving by your actions that the cause is worthy of others coming on board.

Good ideas have to start with someone willing to take the first step. We hope that’s going to be the pattern for Marion’s proposed new parks and recreation program.

Forget all the bureaucratic talk of how many new officials are needed, whom they answer to, and how they will be paid. The area needs a solid rec program for as many reasons as there are different ideas for what it might feature. Beyond merely augmenting school sports, a rec program can provide enriching activities for adults, important opportunities for physical, emotional, and intellectual stimulus of youths, and even potent lures to increase tourism, community pride, and long-term economic development by inducing relocations.

It probably will cost more than we want, and the city may make some mistakes along the way. But the goal is a good one. The school district disappointingly failed to see the value of spreading over its much wider tax base the cost of a program that ultimately will benefit more than just city residents. But some of the same folks who didn’t give up on the idea of going ahead with the food bank, even when support seemed shaky, are admirably undeterred by the same challenge with rec.

What’s really needed is a concerted effort to schedule Marion’s impressive array of public facilities more aggressively, ensuring that there’s always something going on for both young and old. If the city, going it alone, can get the ball started, much as city residents and groups did with the food bank, they can turn what seems a train wreck into a valuable rec program.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified July 9, 2015

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