#12 and #12 on the Walkable Communities checklist:

#11. “The town and the neighborhoods have a vision. Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas are just three examples where neighborhood master plans have been developed. Honolulu sets aside about $1M of funds per year to be spent by each neighborhood. Visionary master plans provide direction, build ownership of citizens, engage diverse people, and create opportunities for implementation.  A well thought out master plan gets past sticky issues, and deals with the most basic, fundamental, necessary decisions and commitments. There are budgets set aside for neighborhoods, for sidewalks, trails, links, and parks. The community no longer talks about where they will get the money, but how they will change their priorities.

#12. Decision-makers are visionary, communicative, and forward-thinking. The town has a strong majority of leaders who “get it.”  Leaders know that they are not there to do all the work…but to listen and respond to the most engaged, involved, and broad minded citizens. They are rarely swayed by the anti-group, they seek the opinions and involvement of big brush citizens and retailers. They are purposefully changing and building policies, practices, codes, and decisions to make their towns pleasant places for people…reinvesting in the town center, disinvesting in sprawl.  These people know the difference between a green field, brown field, and gray field. They know what Active Living by Design is all about. The regional government understands and supports the building of a town center, and is not attempting to take funds from the people at the center to induce or support sprawl. Often there is a charismatic leader on the town board, chamber of commerce, or planning board, along with an architectural review team, a historic preservation effort, and overall good public process. Check out the website of the town…if they focus on their golf courses, tax breaks, great medical services, scenic majestic mountains, or proximity to the sea but fail to emphasize their neighborhood schools, world class library, lively downtown, or citizen participation…they are lost, bewitched, and bewildered in their own lust for Walt Disney’s Pleasure Island.”

You see the line above that talks about a “strong majority of leaders who ‘get it.’ ”

It’s that phrase strong majority that’s important. We do have people in Cortland County that “get it.” We do have some leaders that “get it.” But we do not have a strong majority that “get it.” Some of our leaders are clueless. Some of them, who  start out with some good ideas, always seem to get caught up in the pettiness and party bickering that so defines our government in this county (and many other places as well, i.e. Congress).

People don’t care enough about local politics to even vote in local elections and sometimes when they do, they don’t really know who they are voting for. People don’t want to run for elected office because they don’t want  to be part of such a dysfunctional system.

So we don’t seem to be moving forward, only around and around in neverending circles.

I don’t have the answers. Anyone have any suggestions?



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