Sometimes it is greener on the other side

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

&8220;The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.&8221;

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Most of you have heard or read that Shelby County&8217;s population has been projected to top 300,000 by the year 2035. This projection was made in a recently released transportation study by the Metropolitan Planning Organization &8212; a credible source with lots of experience with such things.

Getting past the initial shock of imagining that many people in our county takes a little work. An increase of 85 percent, the population projection just seems like an untouchable number. But, if history is a teacher, the MPO projection is a smart bet.

So, why are all these folks choosing to move to Shelby County?

Some may be coming for the lower cost of living or availability of land, and others are simply keeping roots were they were born and raised … no need to leave a good thing once you&8217;ve found it. Others are following jobs like my family and I did not so many years ago.

The same MPO study projects another 121,000 jobs, many of which will come in the services industry, will be created here by 2035.

Just amazing.

And certainly the much publicized troubles, both in terms of financial stewardship and political leadership, of our neighbors to the north motivate many to look for greener pastures in Shelby, St. Claire and Limestone counties.

But perhaps chief among those reasons is quality of life: good schools and safe streets. These two elements help create an attractive lifestyle here in Shelby County.

You may have read many times in the space of this column that the two quickest ways to slow growth in our community would be to let criminals begin to get the edge over law enforcement in terms of manpower or equipment, or to turn a blind eye toward the needs of our ever-growing school system. Certainly, no one would consider either a solution for smart growth or at least let&8217;s hope not.

Our community&8217;s continued good fortune as it relates to growth and prosperity is inextricably tied to quality schools and quality law enforcement; take either of these two out of the equation and those skyrocketing population projections begin to wither.