Bradley’s new leaders have said they plan to govern under a banner of “Bradley First.” I take zero issue with elected officials representing constituents’ interests, but the problem with the leaders’ approach is how quickly it becomes a rigid, self-destructive doctrine of “Bradley ONLY and nobody else.”
That has happened already with Bradley’s attempt to back out of its signed agreement to fund the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a decision that threatens not just the county but Bradley specifically. Although the presence of hotels is undoubtedly a strength of Bradley, so is the proximity to architectural features, community festivals and agri-tourism — all outside of Bradley. These attractions enable Bradley not only to collect hotel taxes, which can solely be used to attract visitors, but more sales and property tax revenue to address public safety, roads and other essential needs.
Should Bradley stop contributing to promote countywide destinations and focus on its substantially shorter list, it will be Bradley’s hotels and ultimately people that suffer. And because Bradley has the most hotels, it likely will face the most damage from a weakened CVB.
“Bradley First” is flawed because it ignores the existence of mutual interests — that in areas such as tourism, Bradley’s progress tracks the other communities of our county. I hope Bradley turns away from such a needlessly shortsighted path.