Learning to share
We are all taught at a very young age that we must share with others.
So why is it sometimes so difficult for us to apply that lesson as adults?
It seems that municipal leaders in the villages of Belmont and Bethesda remember that lesson better than some others. After many years through which a spirit of competition and rivalry dominated relations between the two communities, it seems government officials have come to realize they can help themselves by helping one another.
During the past several months, village residents and their elected officials have begun to see the benefits of sharing services and equipment to save money. The two villages have combined their police forces into one entity, and they have acquired a new, state-of-the-art street sweeper to share. By making a joint grant application, the communities also acquired a new police cruiser and other needed equipment.
“Because of pride factors in the past, there was always competition, but we are at a point now where there is cooperation,” Belmont Mayor Stan Sobel said.
That is good news. With government entities at all levels complaining continuously about cuts to their funding, it is apparent that Sobel is right when he said, “You cannot afford to do it on your own.”
There are other local examples of small communities joining forces to accomplish much more together than they can on their own. The villages of Yorkville, Tiltonsville and Rayland, for instance, have formed the YTR coalition to address a variety of community needs. Fire districts, rather than individual municipal departments, are another tool emergency responders are using to help them pool their equipment and resources to better serve the public.
While a fire district may not be the right answer for every community, it is encouraging that many of our local government officials are seeing the value of cooperation over long-standing rivalries.
It may be difficult for people in our area, where individual high school football teams have been rivals for more than a century in some cases, to accept that our neighbors are not the enemy, but by working together it seems that many of our communities will be helping themselves as much or more than they are helping the competition.
Kudos to Belmont and Bethesda and to all local leaders who can see the value of sharing and who are seeking to work together to benefit all of us.