There is no doubt the Aug. 6 defeat of a proposal to move many Dallas County offices to a site east of downtown Adel has created a wedge between factions favoring and opposing such a move. In fact, some of the post-election talk has been acrimonious.
Now that the election is past, it is time for county and city leaders to come up with a proposal that suits not only the county, but the citizens of Adel as well. We believe the city has been a good partner with the county for more than 150 years; now is not the time for that relationship to take a negative turn.
There is no doubt the county needs more space in which to operate. The jail is overcrowded and most certainly will continue to operate above capacity until a new jail is built; population will soon mandate that a second courtroom be available in the county. That said, residents of Adel are also concerned about their downtown area; they have every right to be. Many in the county were concerned with increased taxes that would have been required to raise $16.85 million for the new building. We believe Adel residents, many also concerned with tax hikes, were even more concerned with the continued well-being of their community. They voiced those concerns quite firmly by voting nearly 90 percent against the supervisors’ proposal for the new facility. We also believe most of those votes were cast over concerns that the site chosen by the supervisors would do irreparable harm to Adel’s downtown square.
That Adel vote alone, however, did not defeat the referendum. It passed by the necessary 60 percent majority in only seven of 35 voting precincts. Certainly, not all voters in the 28 precincts voting against the proposal had the Adel downtown’s well-being foremost in their thoughts.
The proposal was completed by the Dallas County Board of Supervisors without much conversation with Adel city leaders. In fact, the Adel City Council passed two resolutions inviting the Board of Supervisors to sit down and talk. Neither invitation was accepted. We believe it is in the best interests of both parties to work together to find an equitable solution.
We acknowledge it will not be easy to find a way to expand county space in downtown Adel. The county has explored some ideas and has not yet found a suitable option. But if the county works more closely with the city, we believe creative options may be found.
By law, the Supervisors cannot put this issue to the voters before six months have passed. In the meantime, we believe the county and city should form a joint study committee to look at all options and develop a plan for county expansion that can be backed by all Dallas County residents, one that won’t be soundly defeated in the home of Dallas County government — Adel.