Issue 31: Is “Planning” a Dirty Word?

By Lisa Westkaemper

An online dictionary search for “planning”, revealed the following: “a program or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of a goal.” And these descriptive additions: Organized arrangement. A proposed project. A method of acting.

At a basic level, city planning is simply an organized approach to accomplishing goals. These goals come from research, investigation, and most importantly – listening to residents and other stakeholders. Planning is certainly not a new idea, nor is it something that has been neglected within our city. It is simply a focus of energy, and actions taken towards a common goal.

The goal is to ensure that Rockland continues to be a wonderful place to live. I chose Rockland, and I have a serious interest in maintaining and nurturing this city. I want to make sure that Rockland continues to be a great place to live, to work, to go to school, to shop, to start a business, to have fun. We need to make sure Rockland stays a walkable city, with increased focus on moving people around safely, and encouraging ideas that will attract additional residents and businesses. We don’t want to keep people out, or discourage businesses, or develop an inhospitable attitude. I once lived in a place where you would often see bumper stickers that said, “Thanks for visiting, now go home”. That just seems rude, and the complete opposite of generous.

Planning creates the path for smart budgeting. If we identify a focus, and a timeline, we can budget accordingly. Do we need a new roof on a city building? We best plan for that. Do we need improvements to Harbor Park? We better plan for that (and we are). Do we want to increase the housing stock in Rockland, keep gentrification at bay, offer viable options so that current residents can stay? We need to plan for that. I don’t want to create rules that are used as weapons. I don’t want to discourage sitting, or walking, or cycling. I don’t want to tell people what color they can paint their house or debate one style of architecture over another. I want to develop a method of taking action to keep our city wonderful and ensure a positive future.

I want to facilitate city plans that work out, in advance, when and where we can put more sidewalks and crosswalks. I want to facilitate safe bicycling in our city. I want to facilitate full utilization of existing buildings that are not occupied. I want to see where we can put more benches, create informative signage that tells about the history and present attributes of our fair city. I want to plant more trees, nurture our parks, and create buffer areas between businesses and residences so that people feel more comfortable. If we have a city where we all want to live and work and spend time, community development will happen and revenues will increase. People will naturally look to Rockland as a viable option for their future PLANS.

Editors note: The candidates for the City Council have each agreed to write an issue for The Buzz. Last week’s issue was by Valli Geiger, next week’s issue will be by Gregory Mason. All three are joining the conversation when they can, Wednesday evenings on the Rockland Metro show.