I believe it can be said of politicians that when times are good you don’t need them; when times are bad you don’t want them. Recently, the powers-that-be in the state and federal government have seen fit to spend $8 million or so of the taxpayers’ money to remove dams in the Des Plaines River because they interfere with the fish population’s ability to freely course its length. Yet a few years earlier, the government refused to fund a fraction of that amount to rebuild a tunnel under the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks to ensure the safety of the human population.

Now we have the Riverside village board enacting an ordinance requiring homeowners and taxpayers to pay up to an additional 40% when replacing their driveway aprons and carriage walks. It seems a white concrete apron leading to the street from the homeowner’s driveway offends their sensibilities. From here on, it will have to be done in what is called “exposed aggregate,” which looks kind of bumpy and brown, wears out quicker and costs more. Never mind that it won’t go well with your existing driveway or that you would just as soon not spend the extra money on something so utilitarian.

You would think that a group of individuals, entrusted with shepherding the community through an extremely difficult economic period, could find something better to do than mandate the use of vanity concrete. How silly can you get? Ostensibly, the end game here is that, over time, everybody’s driveway apron will look the same, just like in those Disney communities down in Orlando.

Even if most people desire that, which I doubt, aprons are replaced so randomly and infrequently, they will never look alike because of weathering. The village bears the expense of replacing the apron when they are redoing the curb and gutter, which, if you’re lucky, may happen every 40 years. I suggest the standard should be basic white concrete. If the homeowner wants something else, he can pay the up charge.

Let’s not forget, this is the same group who refused to replace the concrete apron in front of the Pine Street fire station earlier in their administration, claiming it cost too much. What’s it going to cost now?

Maintaining Riverside’s historic character is important. Spending money on vanity concrete is not. Save the money for things that count, like maintaining the gas street lamps and the water tower.

William H. Anderson Jr.