We need in the conservation and historic preservation fields more sophistication in our politics. You can call it ‘thinking fourth-dimensionally’ as used in Back to the Future, or stale terms like ‘thinking outside of the box’ or currently, being multi-dimensional in our thinking. I don’t care how you label it – but to be victorious in the arena of the public forum; you’ve got to have it.
And a good example is the work being done by the Steering Committee that is dealing with the Master Plan. At first, you’d think such a group is not the stuff that a typical preservationists would be involved with – it’s just city planning you may say.
You couldn’t be so wrong – it’s in these exercises of almost perpetual committeeing where the dark siders and exploiters love to infiltrate. People forget that the original Master Plan of 2001 shows a desired outcome of building development on the waterfront and a sprawling industrial park interspersed with residential units north of Hale Street.
The great danger with the Master Plan is it could be corrupted by three horrible prospects: a dark sider’s vision on how the city should be developed; or it could be infused with People of the Now with a today view not a view of the future; or it pursues a mediocre future or worse yet, no vision at all. Infused with poison, it could stymie our city’s development and cancel out our high quality of life – usually for the benefit of a select few.
Awhile back under Mayor Lavender’s term of office, the Strategic Land Use committee ran a multi-table discussion much like Mayor Holaday is planning for the Waterfront. Each table had a map of the Common Pasture and the Industrial Park and the traffic circle and each group could add a block for buildings or why the area should be left to open space. This little area near Storey Avenue kept popping up with lots of buildings on it which seemed to go against the intent of the Strategic Land Use Committee. No one confessed to having put it there and so it was removed. All these inputs went back to the Planning Office and the final result was printed out – and the block of buildings were put back in!
Turned out that Norbert Carey wanted a development there and the Mayor agreed and it went in. We now have a block of buildings called Oleo Woods there now! This one was let slipped in – but those delving in sophisticated politics would know to nip this in the bud!
There are a lot of projects being proposed in the city – we have a sophisticated City Hall and Mayor and the City Council is just as proficient; we need preservationists to be pro-active and be watchful and that means participating whereever, whenever to ensure our beautiful city is protected and prosperous.
And there are a lot of wolves on the perimeter who’d love to steer all that affluence in their direction.
Take the time, do your research and get out there and mix it up throughout the city!