Probably best now to put in irrigation system

Even strong opponents of government action and interventions can be mollified if the government in question can deliver a needed service in a quality manner. For example: While you may not want to pay a gas tax, you appreciate driving on the highways, as long as they are smooth and well-maintained.

When government starts providing amenities that are nice, but not necessarily essential, the controversy ratchets up. And when those amenities become financial burdens, taxpayers get really unhappy.

In Fairmont, the city put together the Winnebago Avenue Sports Complex several years ago. It includes three softball and one baseball field. The idea is to offer local recreational opportunities at a setting that also can host larger tournaments, perhaps attracting out-of-towners who will spend money on food and lodging here. The city has spent more than $1 million on the site, raising eyebrows, especially among those who believe government should be limited, not active. The question that is raised is if this is such a great project and great idea, why isn’t anyone putting their own money into it. In any case, the complex now exists, but its operations are not perfect. Far from it.

It was revealed this week that costs to provide an irrigation system at the site are more than expected, with ongoing high water bills also anticipated. This has park board members wondering if there isn’t a natural solution – rain – and what other options exist. There don’t appear to be many, not if the complex is going to be a place people want to rely on to use.

The park board does have most of the money set aside for the irrigation system, so it should probably be installed. And the city can continue to look for ways to help get the water paid for. But while moving ahead, we hope local residents and city officials do not forget this lesson. A big project comes with potentially big and unforeseen problems.