Regarding Steven Vaughn's Sept. 17 letter, "Says `no thanks' to more growth for Harlem:" Growth is not an option. Demographics control growth, not individuals. ... Growth is coming and we cannot stop it. What we can do is establish plans to control it.
Grovetown and Thomson are rapidly growing. Harlem needs to grow as well, but through our control and not the control of Grovetown, Thomson or the county. We must implement a 5-, 10- and 15-year growth plan.
There are several empty Harlem storefronts and many homes that have been on the market a long time. Property values have not only remained stagnant, but in many cases have gone down. In previous years Harlem attracted both military and civilian families who shied away from Grovetown because of its stigma as "mobile home city."
Over the past 10 years, the City Council and Mayor Dennis Trudeau have turned Grovetown around. Military and families are moving back, thanks to new housing, services and job opportunities. Growth equals prosperity, and without revenue we will not be able to maintain our current services or provide new services for our citizens.
Currently, Harlem has very little to offer or to entice our younger population to stay. The only jobs are minimum wage and even those are limited. ... The population increase will enhance the ability to qualify for government grants and programs that are presently out of reach. ...
Establishment of both a senior activity center and a youth activity center could be realized through revenues from growth, not increased taxes. Both are greatly needed to enhance community involvement and to instill pride in the programs being afforded to our citizens. However, this all takes money and without controlled growth we will not have revenues to take care of our own.
John F. Bentley, Harlem
(Editor's note: The writer is a mayoral candidate for Harlem.)
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