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Response to ‘Looking forward in Wildwood’

Regarding “Looking forward in Wildwood” [West Newsmagazine, Jan. 24], I’m not sure what meetings Mr. Feuerstein attended in 2017, but the Wildwood City Council was filled with needless drama, overspending and dysfunction. Just a quick review, yields:

• Three months of wasted time spent on a special investigation due to a councilmember getting angry with residents about videotaping a meeting. Not inclusive.

• Councilmembers told residents they had plenty of volunteers but the city appointed the same Ward 8 resident to consecutive volunteer openings. Not inclusive.

• The 10-year charter review changed the charter, without a vote of the people, to allow Mr. Feuerstein and our mayor the opportunity to add more money, some legal pitfalls and a consolidation of power to the electoral process in Wildwood. Not inclusive. FYI, it used to be against the rules for our mayor to publicly play favorites in elections.

• $5,000 spent on a drainage ditch study, only to find out that it’s a worthless drainage ditch. One councilmember called that amount “peanuts.”

• Velodroma – that’s an un-punny word for the city official’s backroom land deal to build a bicycle race track that 80 percent of the residents did not want.

• The year ended with arguments, exaggerations, threats and insults over a zip line at Hidden Valley. That was a mess no matter what side you were on.

There is an interesting choice of words progressives in Wildwood like to use when describing economic development. They use the phrase “economic development activity”  as if “activity” is the goal. They don’t use words like “results,” “outcomes” or “growth.”

I can tell you what will bring growth and results – vibrancy. We need a vibrant community with dozens and dozens of events and activities for families in order to draw Wildwood residents out of their homes and into the Town Center. We need a venue. We need a Village Green.

The city is putting the cart in front of the horse. The progressives in Wildwood think meetings, brochures, fancy certifications and holding workshops will attract new businesses. Then, our residents will automatically flock to the new businesses our city officials picked for us. That is backward. When our residents are connected, businesses will want to be a part of our community and we will be glad to support them. We will get results and growth that are sustainable and responsible. We won’t get caught reaching for ideas that residents don’t support.

The progressives in Wildwood are claiming I want “empty storefronts” because I prefer investments in economic infrastructure versus economic development sales pitches. The free market will fill the storefronts, we just need to give the residents a reason to come to the market. We aren’t just competing with neighboring communities. In the information age, we are competing with the global economy online. Venues and vibrancy will get you off your screens.

We have a lot of choices this April for Wildwood City Council because a lot of people recognize the problems at city hall and they want to step up and right the ship.

[Editor’s note: letter writer is a candidate for the open Ward 8 council seat.]

Niles Stephens

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