Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
– King James Version
Though ‘vision’ here actually refers to the Word of God, we can actually extend the reference to the concept of a set of ideals by which a people mutually agree is a framework of society. In the Bible, when the Israelite society disregarded their ideals and framework; they ran into serious trouble.
We can see the trouble across America as our founding principles are being abandoned and other ‘ideals’ and ‘frameworks’ replace them. It often causes great unhappiness.
Bringing it into the perspective of Newburyport, we have a Master Plan that has been guiding us for the last fifteen years, far more than its supposed lifespan of ten. It has helped us preserve in varying degrees our Eco and Heritage Tourism industries, guided our commercial and residential makeup and has greatly helped us in land conservation and preserving our farms and watershed. Every time a Mayor or the citizenry stray from the over-arching goals; confusion and a whole lot of unhappiness are generated.
As the Master Plan becomes updated, it will be important that we get the ideals correct and the framework right so the prosperity (and more important, the quality of life) of the community are sustained.
So, I again, want to stress how important the Master Plan is and how it is not just some ‘symbolic’ document to be stuffed into a file cabinet and forgotten no matter the wishes of some of our past mayors in the last fifteen years. It shapes how we raise taxes, it shapes how the government gives us grants and loans; it literally affects our standard of living and the lack of a ‘Plan’ or the disregarding of it can cause untold confusion and a lot of pain and suffering.
Mayor Mead was in control at the time of the making of our present Master Plan and because there was a lot of controversy over the Common Pasture, the Industrial Park and the upper parts of the Little River; it omitted references to most of this area. Much political energy through subsequent corner office leaders generated the Strategic Land Use Committee (SLUC) to make up for that city planning hole. Thankfully, its job was completed and is now helping us as development of the traffic circle is being contemplated and the Common Pasture including the upward areas of the Little River are segment after segment being preserved.
But all of that could have been avoided if it had been included in the original Master Plan. It will be important that the new one includes all parts of the city.
Master Plans are all about a vision of the future or to put it in simple terms, “working toward a reality ten years down the road.”
The original Master Plan’s futuristic theme was, “Shaping our future, honoring our past” and its guiding principle: “Preserve and protect the environmental quality, cultural, historic and community resources that have come to define Newburyport.” One of its methods was to “prioritize open space for protection and to preserve wildlife habitats and natural systems.”
So, as we begin to analyze the new Master Plan, what is the new vision. How do the citizens picture Newburyport in ten years? What are their priorities? How has the new demographic population in the city affected that new vision? And on the negative side, “Will the city abandon the goals of the old Master Plan?” and if so, “What will they conceive as its replacement?”
The new Master Plan Steering Committee will be receiving the input from the surveys that the residents have completed. One of the most important necessities of the Master Plan is that its goals are largely based on community input and are meant to reflect Newburyport residents.”
Our old Master Plan in spite of a great number of dark siders, was actually a fine masterpiece of vision. But the Children of the Now are presently in the majority and great numbers of the sophisticated extreme-left pose a potent political block.
Frankly, it makes me nervous, but I might add, not too nervous. In a couple of posts, I will reveal some areas of concern that we all need to watch out for and some important areas of interest that need to be included in the document.
PS. As I cover the Master Plan, remember that the goal of my blogs is to throw in some facts and history so we can get it right – this discussion will not be a vehicle for personal political attacks or scoring hits for some future election campaign. November is far away and the Mayor’s race is not until next year. This is about setting priorities and establishing a future reality that will benefit all of us.