The Brooks at Vale Park development appears to be a beautiful plan. It is also a highly functional plan that will improve stormwater detention upstream on Beauty Creek, thanks in part to a $6 million direct contribution of public funds. But despite our city council's recent approval, we still don't know if it's a good financial plan for Valparaiso overall.

At the public hearing, I asked some basic questions like whether anyone had made a revenue forecast for the new development. I asked what the total value of public infrastructure that we are assuming is. And, most importantly, I asked whether the projected revenues were sufficient to cover the projected replacement cost of the infrastructure in the coming decades. My questions were summarily dismissed as a campaign issue.

When we approve a new development we make an implicit promise to provide for its safety, security, mobility, common enjoyment and long-term maintenance. Promises are easy for cities to make; but they are harder to keep. Over time, we lose track. The revenues that new developments bring in get used up, or are re-appropriated or fail to materialize at all. Over time, as nature takes its course, our promises are revealed once again when they are broken.

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Like most cities, our city is littered with broken promises of the past. I see them as I walk around town and hear about them when I talk to people. They say, “The new things are great! We love the downtown. But we also have to maintain our neighborhoods better.” Our neighbors want sidewalks they can roll a stroller or a wheelchair over. They want basements that don’t flood. They just want the promises we made long ago to be kept.

As mayor, I will not fix every broken promise from the past; there are simply too many of them for the tax base and resources that we have available. But, as a CPA, I can commit to doing basic return-on-investment projections and to changing our processes to give neighborhoods a greater say in where and how we invest.

Bill Durnell is the Democratic mayoral candidate for the city of Valparaiso. The opinions are the writer's.