Rules of the Road

The purpose of this blog is to share with you my thoughts on issues pertaining to Oil City and Venango County and to foster discussion.

However, that requires some basic rules. Personal attacks, inappropriate language and venom-filled postings will not be tolerated. Comments will be screened, and if necessary edited, before posting.

Disagreement and a variety of opinions are encouraged, but I ask that it always be in a respectful, positive manner. So fire away, but do so cleanly

Sunday, October 30, 2011

More on the Ramp

As nearly everyone knows, city council voted last week to not spend another $260,000 on repairs, stopping the work on the parking ramp and instead shuttering it until it can be demolished.

It was not a good choice, for there were no “good” choices. For me, and I suspect for other members of council as well, it was simply the best of the bad.

Without the ramp, I worry about trying to attract more northside businesses and downtown residents with greatly reduced parking options. I have much the same parking concern when it comes to our growing downtown events, such as the Indie music and film festivals, and of course Oil Heritage Week.

The fact we will have a building anchoring a downtown corner that will continue to deteriorate and look it until we can find the money to tear it down is both unappealing and frustrating.

But to some extent, having thought of those things we can at least search for solutions.

It is what we have not thought about that is most troubling, To be sure, there will be unintended consequences. There always are.

One of my greatest fears as a councilman has been that some decision council makes no matter how well meaning becomes what I call a cascade event, setting in motion a series of negative events that end up having major costs to the city, whether economic or social. You always hope it goes the other way, but you never know and it might well be the next generation that finds out.

So, you tread gingerly and try to make the best of bad options.

And I suspect there are going to be more and more situations where there are no good choices, just lesser of bad. Oil City and really all of Pennsylvania’s core communities are facing perhaps the greatest challenges since the Great Depression, maybe even more so.


Anne B said...

Hi John: I lived in Oil City for my first eleven years of life, until the mid-80s, so when I found your blog, I bookmarked it mainly for a bit of childhood nostalgia. But I've come to appreciate your very thoughtful approach to issues affecting Oil City. Your recent posts about the parking ramp reminded me of a blog I read that I think you might appreciate, called Strong Towns ( The authors frequently discuss the problem of aging infrastructure and the dangers (in their opinion) of municipal borrowing for infrastructure maintenance when the funds might be spent on a new solution more appropriate to a city's future needs. I hope you find it interesting; I have no connection to the blog except as a reader. Keep up the good work!

Anne B said...

Beginning around minute 8:00, this relates closely to the Oil City situation (though I highly recommend watching the entire video).

John Noel Bartlett said...

Thank you for your kind words and the links.
I need to find out more about form-based codes mentioned in the Strongtowns blog.

Anonymous said...

Good points John and I agree, there will be some tough decisions ahead. No matter what you are looking at (the ramp, the library, the pool, etc.) if the residents aren't supporting it to a point where it is profitable then you can not be faulted for cutting it. It only makes good fiscal sense. You have to consider your priorites and what assets are most utilized and benefiting the larger population. That is even more important as the City's tax base shrinks along with it's population. It's just a hard reality.