Workers trenching and installing new fiber optics in Clinton (January 2020).
More and more of what is now unseen in our communities are part of the underlying physical structures that allow our neighborhoods to function effectively, providing an essential foundation upon which all of us depend for our basic survival:
Water and Sewer lines
Cable lines, now fiber optics for quick and crucial internet access
Our homes and businesses require electricity and gas to operate our ranges, stoves, microwaves, computers, television or home entertainment centers, lights, our heating and air conditioning systems. Our sanitation depends on the delivery of clean water and disposal of sewage waste. Getting to and from work requires decent roads and rail tracks in good condition. And now Corona Virus has amply revealed the essential need for virtual access to educational resources for our students and the ability to work from home.
Some residents in my conversations from last year are starting to notice areas where our infrastructure is breaking down, from water lines failing to road deterioration or broken street lights going unrepaired. As our neighborhoods age, more prevention, maintenance, and upkeep will be required. Now the terrible impact of COVID-19 coronavirus has demonstrated how essential remote internet connections are in keeping all residents in touch with medical help in a safe and efficient way (Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CNN March 21, 2020). Even decisions regarding new development consisting of more expensive infrastructure and longer-lasting materials and construction needs to be considered, including the installation of fiber optic networks. For some communities with a smaller business tax base where more and more land is devoted to homes in residential development, the upkeep and maintenance of our infrastructure will become more and more of a burden for residential homeowners.
More attention by our elected officials needs to be focused on "balanced" land use development with fewer homes being built and more economic development to serve our existing communities and residents already here. Local businesses often bring in increased tax revenue to help pay for important infrastructure maintenance and development of advanced tele-commuting and tele-medical services, and tele-education ("Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens" The Hill March 31, 2020), shorter distances to commute as well as commercial trucks having to travel to supply goods and services thus significantly reducing the negative impact on our streets and reducing air pollution. The resulting balance between the number of homes and businesses that serve them may bring reduced need for increases in local government taxes, lower health costs from better air quality, goods and services closer to residents saving all of us both time and money and even now "saving lives."