Specht: Staying the same is no longer an option

I am a fan of “open letters,” whether they be letters to the editor of the newspaper, or just an open letter to citizens. This is my open letter to all those who want to keep Minden the same size and way it is today.

Not everyone is a fan of growth. In fact, there are those that are vehemently opposed to it. Whether it is their church, their school or their community, there is a contingent of people who feel everything is good just like it is. Every community has them, and Minden is no different.

There are those who think Minden’s population is just fine at its current size. They think we have enough retail business, enough restaurants, and plenty of jobs.

These same people equate growth with higher crime, more traffic snarls and other “big city” problems. They want their community to stay small and quaint, like they always remember it.

While acknowledging the real and understandable feelings of those in this group, it is imperative to take exception to those conclusions.

First of all, Minden is not staying the same. Its is actually losing ground. One only has to drive down Homer Road to see the empty retail spaces in Park City and Towns East Shopping Centers. Other vacant buildings litter our main thoroughfares.

School enrollment, often the earliest indicator of population growth or contraction is showing the latter in stark reality. In 1992, 8,288 students were enrolled in Webster Parish Schools. This year, there are 6,361.That’s a nearly 25 percent drop in as many years.

Over the past 25 years, the people that wanted to keep Minden the same fought those who wanted progress and growth. Today, we are reaping the harvest of that conflict.

Other factors have also played a part in the declines in tax revenues, businesses and population. But we cannot ignore the thing we can control — our attitude toward growth.

Today, however, is a new day. Our city has committed to economic development in very tangible ways. People are stepping up to the plate, volunteering their time and resources to the growth of Minden. It is exciting to see.

One has to wonder how long it will be until the “keep Minden the same” folks start fighting the initiatives. It is my sincere hope they do not.

I understand the concerns of those who are against growth. No one wants more crime, traffic headaches or the like. These are legitimate concerns that must be addressed.

We enjoy our small-town atmosphere, and that does not have to be lost in the interest of growth. The things that have made Minden the city we love all these years can be passed down to the next generations of business, industries and citizens.

As we band together for the betterment of our community, the future looks bright. Minden is perhaps Louisiana’s best kept secret. People who have never visited often speak highly of our city and its people when they do. We just need to get more people to talk favorably about Minden.

With proper growth strategy and a unified front, Minden can be all the things we want it to be. Not only is it possible, it is imperative.

Staying the same is no longer an option.

David Specht is President of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at dspecht@press-herald.com.



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