Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Loaded statement...

Writing in this month's Business Monthly, Dennis Lane has an interesting take on community, the differences between elicit City and Columbia, and how we plan for growth. Although the entire piece is worth reading, I want to highlight the closing paragraphs just to see if I can stir up any controversy.

I think that Columbia and Howard County would be best served by allowing those with the training and the skills necessary to design the future downtown Columbia to do so. Ask any engineer what happens when you attempt to design something by committee and you will understand my point.

It has been said that a camel is really a horse that was designed by committee. If history is any guide, county planners only need look back 235 years and seven miles down the road for direction.
To a large extent, I agree with him. As I've tried to make clear in the past, I think the community-driven aspects of the Town Center master plan -- the charred portion -- was essential to crafting a collective vision for the future of our community. Translating this vision into a workable plan, however, requires a level of planning expertise that few of us possess.

To be sure, we need to verify that our vision is being properly interpreted, but we also need to trust that those doing all the work at this stage are doing so with integrity and honesty.

Yikes, I sounded like Reagan there; I'm losing my edge.


Anonymous said...

I am nowhere near doning you the "Great Communicator - 2". Is elicit city Columbia slang for our fine County seat of Government?

Hayduke said...

As much as I'd write off the misspelling as a product of careless spell-checking, I fear there might be sinister, subconscious forces controlling my typing.

But that's nothing new.

Hayduke said...

"As much as I'd write off..."

See what I mean? Clearly I am not the one in the driver's seat.

roscoe said...

I'm with Dennis Lane and Hayduke on this issue. I've spent years on getting stakeholder input, and while sometimes its a good thing and on its face, who can argue with it, in practice, the zealots frequently kidnap the process from the public at large and their elected representatives. Here's what a recently issued National Academy of Sciences report had to say on this topic: "Despite their common sense appeal, stakeholder-based processes have been criticized for several reasons: the substantial investment of time and resources required; the likelihood that they will heighten, not alleviate conflict; the difficulty in identifying and facilitating the inclusion of truly representative stakeholders; and the possibility that they are actually counter democratic because of increased involvement of special interest groups." At some point, the input has to be turned over to experts and, I would argue, to the politicians, whose job it is to promote the common good. Experts and politicians are not perfect, but nothing is and at least they are accountable. BTW I too am a democrat, although you wouldn't know it by this post. But that's another story!