Editorial

Editorial by the Plain Talk The headline above is, we know, a bit of a corny cliche.

One of the reasons it has remained a part of American folklore for generations, however, is the universal recognition by most people of the truth and common sense in this old saying.

The statement does a good job of summing up our advice to the Vermillion City Council.

Our local governing board has been given a unique opportunity.

Don't blow it.

The conference room of the refurbished Al Neuharth Media Center on the USD campus was completed about a year ago.

It's modern and spacious. It is designed to be user friendly.

It has a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. You don't have to be an expert in architecture to know that the room's appealing design includes elements to boost the acoustics of the space, so that sound isn't a problem when meetings and programs are held there.

Another appealing characteristic of the conference center is its location.

It's on the main floor of the Neuharth Center. It meets ADA standards with ease.

If the Vermillion City Council could meet there, it would solve a lot of current problems.

The meeting chambers in city hall are located on the second floor of the building.

On more than one occasion, a handicapped individual has had to undergo the harrowing experience of being carried up and down two flights of rickety stairs to take part in a city council meeting.

Alderman Drake Olson has been dealing with those limitations ever since he severely injured his knee shortly before spring. For a time, he had to be hoisted up to the meeting room in a wheelchair.

As his knee heals, he can now make it up the stairs on his own.

The Freedom Forum has presented the city an offer we believe is too good to refuse.

The city council has been given permission to use the conference room in the media center for a year.

Free of charge.

Thanks to the modern technology in the Neuharth Center, the city would still have the ability to televise council meetings over Vermillion's cable television system.

We see this as a win-win situation. As a citizens' committee works on trying to come up with the best solution to the city hall issue that's been plaguing Vermillion for years now, the offer by the Freedom Forum would temporarily alleviate one of city's major concerns about meeting accessibility.

In turn, the Freedom Forum would meet one of its goals ever since the Neuharth Media Center was completed.

Yes, the refurbished building's primary use is to educate budding journalists attending the university.

The Freedom Forum didn't design the building to be an island unto itself, however. From the time of its dedication last fall, it's been rather apparent that the new structure has welcomed, not shunned, interaction with the Vermillion community.

ADA requirements were used as a major selling point when the city tried and failed to purchase the Community First bank building for its new city hall last year.

ADA requirements and meeting accessibility should remain a major concern.

They should be a major concern of the committee that's studying Vermillion's future city hall options.

They should also be issues on the front burner of Vermillion's new mayor and city council that take office July 6.

In case you haven't guessed by now, we're a bit disappointed in the rather lackluster response the city council gave to the idea of moving its meetings to better digs.

Excuses ranged from the possible "negative" perception that would be caused by holding city meetings in a university building, to the desire by one alderman to hold city meetings in a city building.

We believe those concerns are a bit premature. The only way to know if aldermen's fears about moving to the Neuharth Center are valid is to, well, make the move and see what happens.

We believe the move will be well accepted by the community. The city council should at least give the conference room location a chance.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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