I see the city is going to be spending $500,000 on consultants to study ways to develop the citys rivers.
That in itself is not news. It was first announced early this year.
What I cant help but wonder is what sort of plan the consultants will come up with when theyve finished their work a year and a half from now.
I suppose Im just as excited as the next guy to see what their proposals will be. After all, Ive lived in this town since 1982, and people have been talking about how to tame the rivers and what to do with them since I first arrived.
We havent completely ignored the rivers.
For years we had a raft race, a floating free-for-all with a little chaos mixed in. The race died after a while, primarily for financial reasons. All those T-shirts that participants got cost the sponsors a lot of money.
The raft race was reintroduced this year. It was not a lot different from the race back in the 1980s, but at least were using the river.
Weve also introduced the Riverfest, held at IPFW. This year one of the features was a cardboard boat regatta, in which participants had to build boats out of cardboard and race them.
At least were using the rivers now, a lot more than we did a couple of decades ago.
Then theres the Save the Maumee Grassroots Organization, an outfit started by one woman that now brings people together to haul tons of trash out of one stretch of the Maumee each year.
What I dont understand is why we dont have something like a Save the St. Marys organization that draws people together to pull the tires and barrels and logs out of the St. Marys, creating some sort of seminavigable channel that lets people canoe from the Tillman Park area all the way downtown. Ive canoed that route and its a pleasant experience.
For most people, though, the rivers have long been something considered too polluted for fishing or canoeing or worrisome channels that flood their homes, local parks and roads.
Once our consultants are finished pondering the rivers, they will undoubtedly come up with ideas that come with price tags that will make some people recoil. We will all have to remember, though, that any grand plans that are pursued will take years to accomplish. It will be a long-term investment that will have to be done a little bit at a time.
In the meantime its worth remembering that it doesnt cost anything to put a canoe or kayak into one of the citys rivers and go for a paddle, and it costs little to fish in the citys rivers.
Trying them out for free, or virtually free, is one way to increase appreciation for the rivers, because a public that doesnt appreciate what we have will never support spending large amounts to take care of them.