Return to Nicholas Johnson's Main Web Site

Return to Nicholas Johnson's Coralville Rain Forest Web Site

Be Careful, Iowa: Growth Comes At a Price

Connee Harnden

Des Moines Register

April 17, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

I was delighted to read about the retirees returning from popular sunshine states to their Midwest roots ("Boomerang Retirees Find Homes in Iowa" April 8).

My husband and I were born and raised in Minnesota and Michigan, respectively, but lived our adult lives in Southern California. We moved to Iowa last September and simply love it here.

We deliberately picked a rural setting away from larger cities with "good amenities." What we've found here in the "boondocks" (as our California friends like to call it), is a quiet, quality of life with the benefits of university communities less than an hour away. We think it's just about perfect here.

But one thing concerns us, and that's Iowa's push to increase its population. Take a closer look at states with significant growth and you'll see that it often comes at a terrible price.

Currently, issues such as water and air quality, the toll of addiction to gambling and methamphetamines, political scandals and homelessness consume much of your press.

But with growth at any price, these problems will not only multiply, you'll be able to add to this list overwhelmed infrastructures and social services, more gang and violent crime, noise pollution and a landscape increasingly cluttered with housing tracts instead of fields of corn and cattle. Your wonderful Midwest will slowly become a clone of California madness.

It's true that Iowa can benefit from the fresh ideas, talents and energy that come with transplants from other areas. But, please don't change too quickly. We just got here, and we like it just as it is.

Connee Harnden