North Texas cities wish upon a new stimulus plan

Fort Worth Star-TelegramDecember 12, 2008 

Cities across the country are dusting off their municipal wish lists as they wait for the federal government to pass a proposed economic bailout plan that could include billions of dollars for new infrastructure.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors says in a news release for its MainStreet Economic Recovery Plan that because 90 percent of the nation’s population lives in metropolitan areas, funding municipal projects "is the most direct path to creating the jobs and stimulating the businesses that can begin to reverse our economic downturn."

The mayors compiled a list of 11,391 projects from 427 cities, with a price tag of $73 billion. The projects, which would create an estimated 847,000 jobs, are ready to go, the group said. They could be funded by programs already in place, such as Community Development Block Grants.

Some items on the list are mundane, such as new waterlines and sewer lines. Some have been around awhile: Fort Worth wants help building a new police academy. Some are, literally, pie-in-the-sky, like Arlington’s request for a drone aircraft, which was dropped from a second draft of the list. That’s led to some chuckles.

The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece criticizing, among other projects, Euless’ request for a $15 million recreation center. "It is clear that any infrastructure stimulus money given to the country’s mayors will lead to thousands of tennis centers to nowhere," wrote Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation.

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