Comprehensive Plan Update

The work on the new comprehensive plan has begun and I attended three meetings in this week.  On Monday evening there was a Steering Committee meeting with Houseal Lavigne where we were given information regarding doing small group outreach.  This was for the Steering Committee to make presentations to groups that are unable to attend the regular community meetings or groups that have special interest.  I honestly do not know how effective this will be since everyone on the Steering Committee is already active in the community as well as their individual businesses but it was an interesting exercise.   I told the Town Manager, Dave Schoeff, that I would be willing to help with one of these, if approached, but I do see that I would go out looking for groups to give presentations.

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The Dream of “Affordable Housing”

In conjunction with and immediately following that meeting was the first community meeting.  While participation was less than stellar (only about 25 people were in attendance) there were some consistent themes  that came out of the meeting.  It did not take long for affordable housing to bubble to the top.  Unfortunately affordable housing is a hard one for people to get their arms around and everyone’s definition seems to be somewhat different.  Probably the second most discussed issue which was  touched on several times  was “identity” of Culver, i.e. are we or do we want to be a resort community.  (More on that later.) 

Image borrowed from You Got 20 blogspotI attended a second meeting on Tuesday morning that was a small group session focusing on local businesses.  There were approximately 15 people at this meeting with a reasonable mix of retail and other businesses.  Some of the discussion was somewhat heated and some animosity between the merchants and the Town officials was apparent.  There were strong opinions expressed on the identity issue as well as what the Town Government should be doing to help promote business.  While the discussion was good there was nothing approaching consensus regarding the issues discussed.  One person at this meeting left with the disgusted aside to me that this looked like $75,000 wasted as these were the same arguments that have been expressed over and over again with no results and this was just one more time that this was going to happen.  The only difference being is that it was being documents.

Image borrowed from rcsinnovations.comI am going to relinquish my position as head cynic here and say that I am still hopeful.  (Not that we’re ever going to all sit an hold hands singing Kumbaya or anything!)  The Comprehensive Plan is in no way a solution to the problem but I believe that it is already getting some of the issues expressed to a wider audience.  So often I feel that the individual groups work in somewhat of a vacuum assuming that everyone is aware of their problems but without actually expressing them to those outside of their individual cliques.

One of my disappointments in recent years has been the evolution of the Second Century Committee.   I was one of the founding members of this group which made the initial trip to New Bremen and held discussions with Mr. Jim Dickie regarding how we could have a better vision for Culver.  One of the things that came out of that was the disconnect between the various groups and the original Second Century Committee was put together in order to bring those groups together at one location on a monthly basis to discuss projects and try to develop synergy and collaboration.  This spawned the Mary Means Study, the Ratio Charette and the last Comprehensive Plan.  At that time there was a Steering Committee for the Second Century Committee that met monthly as well as monthly meetings for the entire group which was selected to represent the various entities in Town.  At that time the  Second Century Committee did not do projects but facilitated projects.  Now the Second Century Committee has become not much more than the Steering Committee doing individual projects on their own.  While this has resulted in a lot of progress on many of the Charette issues what has been lost is the community collaboration.  I am hopeful that the process surrounding creating a new Comprehensive Plan will rekindle that sense of community whether through a reinvented Second Century Committee or through other means.  I sincerely hope that this is not going to result in merely documenting the problems that we all know exist.  If so, it will be money poorly spent and a missed opportunity.

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