A new proposal may have New Carlisle citizens seeing the city through a whole new lens.
New Carlisle is a lovely place to live, but no one can deny there are some repairs and upgrades that are long overdue in our city. Damaged roads, empty lots, decaying buildings, dilapidated businesses; blight has started to take hold in our cash-strapped little town. Our city leadership is doing their best, fighting these issues with hard work, sizable income and property taxes, and good old-fashioned elbow grease.
But a new idea may be able to solve these issues affordably and with a minimal amount of manpower.
The city has received a quote for the issuance of virtual reality headsets to each New Carlisle resident over the age of 18. The headsets will work with a smartphone app to display an overlay of what New Carlisle would look like in a perfect world, where the streets are freshly paved and all businesses are occupied and thriving. All property eyesores will be gone, instead replaced with impeccably manicured lawns and beautiful community spaces. The headsets and software will feature integration with Google Maps, allowing residents to walk or drive through town and see the “perfect” version of town through their headset.
There are approximately 4,300 adults residents inside city limits, and each headset costs about $100. This makes the total investment $430,000, which is no small sum.
However, the costs to repair all of our streets and demolish buildings that have fallen into ruin are much greater. Demolition and clean up of the Madison school alone would run several hundred thousand dollars, while street repair jobs such as Prentice and Edgebrook have been near or above six figures. Overall, the city could save millions in the coming years.
One exciting feature of the headsets is a “retro mode,” in which residents will be able to set the device to display a digital replication of previous eras in the town’s history, dating back to the 1980s. Time periods prior to that are unavailable due to poor image quality used in the database, but may be available with future updates. Retro mode will get citizens reacquainted with such historical New Carlisle landmarks as J&E, Johnson’s Super Valu, the dearly missed second Speedway location, and Trostel’s furniture store, to name a few. Imagine being able to walk down Main Street in 1990 again.
Future iterations of the software could allow the user to transform anything they dislike about their town into the most idealized version imaginable. Using data collected from each person’s smartphone and internet use, the app would generate a utopian vision for each user. For example, a heroin junkie shooting up in the middle of the street would look like a United States soldier enjoying a refreshing Mountain Dew. The mayor would look like Ronald Reagan. A neo-Nazi couple would look like employees at a beloved local restaurant. Through the headset, Paul might look like an actual saint to some of you and a target practice dummy to others.
Of course the drawback of this idea is that no problems will actually be solved in real life. The roads will continue to be bad, the drug problem won’t go away, and businesses will still sit vacant. But does any of that matter if New Carlisle feels like a great place to live again? Who cares whether the city is doing a great job or not, so long as the things that matter to each and every one of us appear to be wonderful.
So, what do you think? Is this an acceptable solution to our town’s issues? Is perception close enough to reality, or is this just putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound? Sound off in the comments and let us know if you think our problems can be solved digitally!