Part 5: Fit the Fourth: Dirty Old Town
Fit the Fourth: Dirty Old Town
After weighing up my options, I decided to take advantage of Funkytown's natural harbour by building a port on it.
But firstly I decided ease congestion on High Street by extending another road parallel to it, to provide another link between the housing and the industrial zones.
Then it was on to the construction of the seaport. I stretched another road out to the harbour for access, which I dubbed Harbour Road.
I levelled an area on the coast and set up the zone. Constance reminded me that I needed to make sure it was adequately powered and watered for it to become effective.
As I waited for that to happen, I decided to begin allocating zones that allowed the construction of apartment blocks and the like, to increase the population density. Whilst many people loved their backyards, others were quite content to live in circumstances where they could eavesdrop on their neighbours having sex and then play loud music in retaliation.
The port was fully operational within a month. It had been an expensive exercise, so I hoped it would pay off before too long. I felt there was plenty of room to extend it down the track, but for now it should serve the town well.
I could barely take a breath after overseeing the operation, as my diary was full with appointments the next day.
First up was the venerable Granny Kibblewheat, who was one of the town's oldest residents, having lived in town for nearly three years. She and her old biddie buddies at the Grey Llamas morning club wanted to know what I was going to do about about the lack of a hospital.
You're quite a resourceful young man for having this town built so quite quickly - why, I must it was only yesterday that we were all living in tents!
That was just about yesterday, though?
But, Wallace, I must say that I am disappointed, so very disappointed that you have not built a hospital yet, because I'm nearly dead, and yet I have never seen the inside of one. Please build one so I can die in comfort.
Uhh, sure, Gran.
The next petitioner was some kook in a fez called Feargal, who was the grand poobah or something of the local lodge of the Proactive and Benevolent Order of... Llamas. What the hell was it with these people and llamas?
Why? The kids are happy enough taunting Moe at his house and getting run over by trains.
But we need somewhere to sacrifice our llamas at midnight under the full moon so we can drink their BLAH-D!
What? That doesn't sound terribly benevolent towards llamas.
What did I say? I'm sorry, I meant it would be so nice to have llama petting days at the park. But there aren't any! I humbly request that you do something about this.
Point noted. Get out. Oh, and if any mutilated llamas turn up around town, I'm sending Maria around to your house with a SWAT team lickety-split.
As I had my receptionist hustle Feargal out the door, I noticed the last appointment was with Peta Marshall, the Mayor of RuPaul. This could be the solution to all our problems! I made sure Karen was present, and had the receptionist show Peta in.
Hey, whoa, I just came in on that ferry, now I know why this place is called Funkytown. Whoa it stinks! All that garbage around the place! Dirty!
Yeah I know. I was hoping you'd be able to help out with that.
Of course. I'll get straight to the point, shall I?
Hmm... What do you think, Karen?
Well, I'm not sure. §0.08 a ton is pretty steep. I know you've got a huge disused coal mine out the back of RuPaul, and you're clamouring for anything that can fill it, and our need is rather urgent. But, at that price, I think we'll wait until we can get a better deal.
Are you serious? Are you really going to condemn your residents to yet more months wading through trash, when you could so easily do away with it all at the stroke of a pen?
Peta shrugged her shoulders.
After Peta left the room, Karen turned to me and glared.
Are you nuts? The garbage is out of control!
I know what I'm doing. She'll be back. Either that or we'll get a better deal from another of our neighbours.
Well, if you say so.
The recently established local newspaper, The Funkytown Boogle, got wind of the deal falling through and I was strongly criticised in the editorial. I thought it was ironic since the Boogle was only adding to the problem, every day I saw reams of the worthless tabloid swirling around in the streets.
I surveyed the town plan again, and determined not to let the grass grow under the feet of Funkytown, I approved more housing estates.
Eventually this road would go on to bridge the river and provide a route to Firetop Mountain. Early estimates of the bridge quoted it at nearly §2,000 so I decided to wait until we really needed it. One citizen suggested that the district at the foot of the volcano ought to be named Pompeii, so I thought that Pompeii Road would be an appropriate name.
I also had Bunkley Terrace extended and to curve around to join up with Pompeii Road.
A quick survey of the budget estimates reveal we were still cutting it fine, and given that a couple of major costs were about to foist themselves onto the spreadsheet, I was quite nervous. Not to mention that half my original grant had now been spent. I felt that we could be to looking for new sources of income in a couple of years, so I wanted to make sure we had a tax base of about 15-20 thousand residents before that happened.
At least there was to be a boost towards that target, as the first apartment block was under construction.
As I expected, Peta returned a couple of months later with a much better quote for the garbage service. This time I didn't hesitate to accept it.
Wait, that's not what you said the last time.
Heheheh yeah. What can I say, you drive a hard bargain, mister.
The deal couldn't come soon enough, even though I was justified in delaying it. The situation was beyond ridiculous. The backlog would cost a lot to clear at first, but after that the monthly outlay would be less.
Finally, the apartment block was built. Unfortunately it was rather cheap and shoddily built, so there would soon be many more little ratbags to join Nate and his ilk. Whatever. They all paid rates as at the moment anyone could get a job at the slag pits.
I knew Randall was going to start hounding me more and more often about the hospital, so I just thought "fuck it" and had one erected on Bunkley Terrace.
With the waste management issue under control, I hoped that this would be the last time I'd have to worry about it for some time.
I wasn't sure whether the new seaport was having a positive impact on industrial demand, but I decided to make room for more factories anyway.
Another neubauten soon emerged on the skyline, next to the first.
So I thought it prudent to spur a branch to a new train station. Unfortunately a couple of house were sacrificed to make way for the station, but it was for the good of the town.
Randall popped in one day, and he was naturally extremely pleased about the new hospital. I'd seen his stupid grin many times, but it was only then that I noticed something about it. It was quite... startling.
Oh, that hospital is so GREAT! And you picked such a lovely spot for it. Views of the lake, close to everyone so they don't have to drive three years to see their demented grandma, marvellous.
Umm, what's that... gah it's shining in my eyes!
What seems to be the problem?
Oh god I think I'm going to have to draw the blinds.
Are you OK, Wal?
Another thing. Gus was no longer quite gung-ho about selling our excess power to City Name or wherever. To me that meant, that, while there was still plenty of capacity for the town, there was no longer enough surplus to be worth offloading onto other cities. Not a massive problem for now, but I would have to make sure that there was some cash left for a second power plant when it was needed.
I looked at the budget once more, and wondered where I'd be able to cut corners.
"I know", I thought, "I'll cut funding to Mass Transit! What could possibly go wrong?". I didn't think Moe would be happy, but I wasn't quite prepared for what came next.
Well, there's going to be a LOT of belt tightening in the years to come. You'd better get used to it.
But it's already having an adverse effect on the roads! Traffic jams!
There's enough bloody roads. They'll cope. So will you.
The budget at the end of 1902 was a sobering picture. In truth the big hit was late in 1901, when the seaport was laid out, but there was not much cash left for major investments. I had no choice, though, I just had to hope that the city was well onto it's feet by that stage.
But, growth was still occuring, though not quite at the rate I'd like. Approval was middling, but there were jobs for all.
Not to mention that all our neighbours were outpacing us, but I didn't really imagine that we'd be able to keep up anyway. We were playing on our own terms.
But enough of the glass-half-empty view.
(Click for larger)
As we were about enter Year 1903, the city was free of garbage, the residents were now healthier than it was a year ago, and happier for it. But it also looked quite samey, being one solid mass of houses, so I thought back to Feargal's suggestion that I lay out some parks around the place. I'd do something about that early in the new year.
I also noticed that I had begun to think of the city and its people as "we", with I being just one of them. It wasn't just an amorphous mass of streets and houses and shops and factories. The people living their lives in and around it gave it a heartbeat, you might call it a soul if you were feeling particularly mystical, it even seemed to have an... aura.
Oh hell. Maybe Randall was right.