Below are responses to Valley Sentinel’s River Valley Think Tank Initiative from Spring Green Village Boardmember Michael Broh.
Valley Sentinel: What are a few major obstacles/issues facing your community that will need to be acted on in this next year? Next three years? Next five years?
Michael Broh: The biggest issue facing our community right now is the effect of the pandemic on our local economy. As we watch businesses struggle and see increasing numbers of people without work, the risk of a downward spiral is great. We must stay on top of maintaining what we have, so we don’t watch our infrastructure degrade from lack of attention. Outside of our municipality, as we see greater numbers of people working and schooling from home, it is clear that better internet access is critical.
VS: What actions are needed to resolve those major obstacles/issues?
MB: Good fiscal management remains our best tool in staying on top of infrastructure. As people struggle, we want to avoid further borrowing and tax increases, so we don’t add to their struggles. To increase our resources, then, we need to be able to increase the tax base. We need to encourage growth as best as possible, such as the work we’ve done with Cardinal, and watching for similar opportunities to attract new businesses.
VS: What are a few projects that feasibly could be started, or even completed, in the next year that would better your community?
MB: I don’t think the Village of Spring Green is in a position for new projects. We’ve just completed a new Police Station, and are continuing to work on the new infrastructure in the industrial park. We continue to budget to maintain our existing infrastructure, so that we can replace the great things we have before catastrophes can occur.
VS: What are the areas for cooperation and coordination between our greater community in these projects?
MB: Spring Green has an ongoing opportunity to grow as a tourist community. The Chamber of Commerce has done a nice job creating events that bring more people here, and show off existing businesses. We should continue to support the chamber, the Spring Board, For Petes’s Sake, the Spring Green Area Arts Coalition, and other partners who want to help draw more people to our community. In the midst of this, it is critical that we be a welcoming community to a diverse world. The Open Minded campaign is a great example of how we can work together to make Spring Green more welcoming.
VS: What are some forward-thinking opportunities and initiatives that your community should have on their agenda? What’s the next big endeavor to better your community?
MB: It is critical that we strike a balance between exciting new ideas and holding on to what we have. Given the state of our local economy, I am not currently proposing any new and exciting spending that might jeopardize our previous investments. For example, we recently looked at expanding the size of the pool, to allow for some larger competitive swimming events. This is absolutely something that would serve our community, but at this time, not something we can afford to build and maintain. Everything we invest in is a thing we need to protect for as far as we can see. Even generous gifts like the skate park and the tennis court ultimately degrade. We must make sure we can protect what we have.
VS: What are ways community members can get involved?
MB: I was very excited about the mural brought to Lexington St. The project was approved by local government, but paid for through independent fundraising. These sorts of projects are always exciting, and feel less burdensome to the community. They also give board time to budget for replacement decades down the road.
VS: Please feel free to add any other comments/suggestions to better our communities!
MB: I love Spring Green. This is an amazing community. I continue to be proud to serve here. We know that small town life is not a spectator sport. Spring Green is proof of that. I want to thank everyone who has given back to their community, and those that will come after them.