Not sure if y'all know, but the City of Kirkland is in the process of spending $114,671 of our tax dollars to run a 15 month pilot project to offer wireless access in two downtown parks. Did you know it was live right now? After I heard this I started to wonder why this is going on and who really wanted it? Did the citizens all petition our city to get this done? Is there huge demand for wireless in our parks? Perhaps this offers the city a new revenue source to ease our burden a bit? Was this the best use of of 115 big ones? I just don't get it!
First let's get some facts down (click here for an overview of the project and access to the FAQ). Here is why the city is saying you might use Wireless in the Park:
- Perhaps you are a local parent and need to answer email while your children play in the park.
- It's one of our fabulous sunny days and you can't resist moving your meeting outside.
- You are a visitor and want to find out about the restaurants in town.
Now let's break this down a bit. Janis and I take our kids to the parks all the time (read our park reviews if you don't believe me). The last thing Janis or I want to do is bring our laptops along, ignore our kids, and sit there doing email (besides, a blackberry device works much better if you really must do email that often--you don't need the city to provide wireless either). OK, so let's suppose you do bring your laptop to the park and it's one of those nice sunny days the city references above. Have you ever tried looking at a laptop outside, during a sunny day? You can't see a damn thing unless you are sitting in a covered/shady area--which are not abundant in either Peter Kirk Park or Marina Park. Better yet, let's take the "visitor" benefit statement. Yup, I see visitors all the time just walking around our parks with their laptops wondering where the heck they might find a restaurant around Kirkland. Then they get all frustrated because we don't have wireless in our parks. I just don't get it!
So why is the city spending our hard earned tax dollars on this project? Many of the local businesses already offer WI-FI for free. Kahili is a great example. The city mentions the likes of San Francisco and Philly as examples of other cities that are putting in wireless networks. Is that the reason we are doing the pilot? So we can be like San Francisco? I just don't get it!
OK, here is my last rant on this topic. I have been going to a few of the City Council meetings lately, and have read some of the requests for new funding for various projects/investments/human resources, etc. Every time I go to these events all I hear is how poor the city is, how understaffed we are compared to other cities our size, and how we need more greenbacks to run the city properly. Then I see the spending for "Wireless in the Park" and several other projects where we just seem to be throwing money around (e.g paying an architect firm 50k to do a study on the old Kirkland Cannery--does the city even own the building?).
So I guess my point here is that I hope the city is doing things we really need and providing services people are really asking for--versus just doing things just because they can. We all pay a lot of taxes here especially if you own property in Kirkland. Let's make sure we are spending it wisely or saving it for the future. Again, I just don't get it.
Please provide your opinion by adding comments. I am happy to be convinced this is a good use of funds...Steve