I understand you wanting to compare a city that is similar in population to yours ("Growing Pains," Jan. 17). And I understand that there are probably a few cities that would make a good model for your city to emulate. But Lincoln, Nebraska?
I live in Lincoln, and there are very few things here I would recommend any city copy. If anything I would highly recommend the 45-minute drive to Omaha.
My property taxes are too high. Driving in Lincoln is an awful experience. I could dedicate a chapter in a book to how bad driving is in Lincoln. City planning is very, very bad. There are not enough four-lane roads here to handle the traffic. We're talking major thoroughfares that are still two-lane roads. Traffic light timing is so bad that it is a 37-minute drive from one end of Lincoln to the other.
Economic development is not in the forefront in local government's eyes. We have lost several large companies to other cities in recent years (Ace Hardware Warehouse, Cushman, National Crane, Gallup, etc.), while not bringing in even one new one (although Verizon is supposed to be coming). Many other smaller companies have left for towns on the outskirts of Lincoln, where they were offered startup concessions and tax breaks.
In Omaha there is an economic boom! Gallup relocated to Omaha to a campus developed solely for them. This is an area along the Missouri River that has transformed old brick buildings into condominiums, with plenty of open space and beautiful views. All of this is private development brought on by tax breaks from the city. Omaha is continuing to grow, with Mutual of Omaha unveiling its new campus recently. Even the "bad" parts of town have seen renovation with more to come.
Omaha is pretty much a 25-minute city, meaning that you can drive from one end to another in 25 minutes or less. Traffic signals are timed accordingly. My wife and I travel to Omaha each week to sample the many fine restaurants throughout the city; in Lincoln, Applebee's is considered fine dining. Home prices are much lower, and taxes are lower in Omaha. Snow removal is much better than in Lincoln. Even the price of gasoline is much lower in Omaha.
So please don't settle for the likes of Lincoln, Nebraska. This is not the city you'd want to follow. If Lincoln takes away the state government, the university and the three prisons, then we'd probably have to pick up and move to Arkansas, though not too close to Wal-Mart.