"Riverwalk Project Ground Breaking
March 19, 2010; 10:00 a.m.
Good morning ladies and gentleman. My name is Karl Marking and I’m the Vice President of Coatesville’s City Council. On behalf of the city, I’d like to extend our sincere thanks for taking the time to attend this ceremony.
I’d like to open my remarks by first acknowledging where we’ve come from before I focus on where we are and where we’re heading. I would like to acknowledge that Coatesville is far from perfect. The last few years have seen one of the worst times in Coatesville’s recent history. We are coming out of a period of distrust between the city and her government. We are, at long last, emerging from a time of terrible crime, an arson spree that garnered national attention, and one of the worst economy’s since the great depression. But the important thing today, is that we are here; we are on the other side - a little wiser than we were before, but no less hopeful.
We are coming together this morning - not to dwell on the often harsh or disappointing realities of human nature, but instead to focus on what can be achieved through hard-work, timing, a little vision, and a lot of perseverance.
I’d like to share a quote from President Obama’s Nobel lecture last December:
We do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected.Nobel Lecture [modified] Dec. 10, 2009
We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place.
The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached — their fundamental faith in human progress — that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
For if we lose that faith — if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make — then we lose what’s best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility.
Grand words, perhaps, for such a small ceremony as this. But the reality is, for many people in the city of Coatesville, the city of Coatesville is the world. And regardless of how well travelled, well educated, or well intended any of us are, to thousands of people, Coatesville is home. And we have the honor and the responsibility to do all that we can to make it the best home possible for the over 10,000 people who continue to have faith in realizing a return on the investment of their hopes, their efforts, and their money. It is up to us - all of us - to do what is necessary to also make Coatesville a place that people can be proud to call home.
I see the river walk as more than a new project. It is more than a walking or cycling trail. It is a symbol; a promise soon to be fulfilled. It is another step toward finding Coatesville’s future and delivering on her potential for being more than she is, and perhaps - one day - more than she ever was.
I moved to Coatesville five years ago on this promise; the promise of a vibrant renovation of The Flats and of the downtown. Neither of which have been fully realized. And I am not alone. I know many people who took a similar chance on Coatesville. People with an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to be a part of something not only new, but vibrant.
We have a lot of hard decisions to make and a lot of a hard work yet before us and we need to maintain that entrepreneurial spirit if we are to succeed. We have a main street that needs our attention. We have a school district working diligently to improve their reputation. We have a fully staffed police force. In short, we have the tools we need to build our city’s future. We also now have a group of people - from elected officials and city hall employees, to church leaders and every day citizens - who have been ready, willing and able to begin using these tools. We have vision. We have heart. We have faith in the fact that our city does not have to be idealized in order for us to realize our potential. It is up to us - all of us - to move Coatesville forward.
I am honored and pleased to be able to stand here today and be a part of this ground breaking ceremony; to be a part of the symbolism of what is on Coatesville’s horizon.
I asked Council President Simpson - who was unable to attend this morning’s festivities - if he’d like me to say a few words on his behalf. And ever the embodiment of brevity; he had just this to say: “Git R Done!”