Mayoral candidate and former alderman Pete Karas came out today against the City of Racine's largest request for stimulus dollars -- $36 million for a new library out of a total wish-list of $73.9 million. He called for the city to re-evaluate its request and allocate the money "in a way that does not cause a loss of services and business" to city residents. The library has offered to purchase land north of Spring Street off Green Bay Road for a library to serve residents who live west of downtown. No stimulus funds have yet been awarded.
Karas' statement said:
“I am deeply troubled that city government is proposing to use $36 million of valuable stimulus dollars to relocate the Racine Public Library outside the borders of the City of Racine. The City of Racine government should serve the people of Racine and not spend tax money to move our valued library to a less accessible place.
“This is the wrong thing to do on so many fronts,” Karas notes. “The Library draws city residents and non-residents downtown and these people also frequent downtown businesses. How many already scarce dollars will be lost by our local businesses if these people are now heading to a library in Mount Pleasant?
“The people of Racine elect leaders to represent their interests and not those of our surrounding communities. As mayor, I pledge to put Racine first when making decisions that affect our residents and our local economy. Racine has so many more cultural offerings than our suburbs and we need to expand, not reduce them, if we are to continue to grow as an urban center of choice.”
Karas applauded the request for Racine Promise, a program that would afford a free college education to high school graduates, and several of the environmental initiatives.
“If we are going to be asking for millions of dollars of stimulus money, I would propose that these ‘green’ initiatives be expanded in the proposals,” noted Karas. “I would like to see more infrastructure investment in such things as renewable energy programs and sustainable ecofriendly neighborhood projects.
Karas running on a platform of local jobs, safe streets, responsive government, and essential services.