Local Views: Janesville should beam with pride over new transit center

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Jack D. Messer
Saturday, August 30, 2014

 “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”

—Daniel Burnham

Congratulations, Janesville. I had the great fortune to be invited, and attend, the opening of the Janesville Transit Services Center on Aug. 20. What a beautiful building and investment in the future of Janesville. The community, city council, staff and professional team should be commended for their steady commitment and professional delivery of this project.

I had the great opportunity to catch up and reminisce with old friends at the dedication. While all were happy the project was done, there was an undercurrent of caution as each related the ongoing criticism and difficulty posed by some in the community about this investment. I had the opportunity to reflect about the project and why the community should consider it a success and take pride in this facility.

When the opportunity arose and the time came to get this project going, there was significant professional experience and leadership brought to bear. From the administration of former City Manager Steve Sheiffer, who had the foresight to acquire the site, to the leadership of Tom Rogers to study all the available options citywide, to the patience of Dave Mumma to continue to champion his need, the project got moving.

I was fortunate to be involved in the very early stages of programming this building and helping to plan it both as a member of the staff and as a private consultant. Collaboration with Joe Stadelman at Angus Young Associates was critical in the overall design. From the early planning stages, it was evident this was likely going to be a singular opportunity to provide for the transit system’s basic operational needs for a couple of generations. It was important to make no small plan when considering that type of decision.

The team pushed, pulled, stretched and debated. It was critical to create a strong operational model because that drives everyday savings. The investment in operations today will save the community many times over. It was also important to create flexibility. This building would have to be one that could adjust to future changes that perhaps can’t even be imagined. It was also important to make the building enduring. It needed to be able to expand in the future and appropriately use the site available. Finally, the building had to provide a functional and appropriate work environment for employees.

After touring the building, I must say that the team and the community hit their mark. The building provides for today and positions the community, and its transit service, for the future. Numerous individuals are involved in a community investment such as this, and it takes many small and difficult decisions to deliver a project like this. The community should be very proud of its commitment to this project; it is an example of a piece of a bigger plan that moves Janesville forward.

Jack D. Messer of Overland Park, Kansas, and formerly of Janesville, also served as Janesville’s public works director from 2005 to 2009.

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