Opinion

Of congresses and sticky dots

It felt like 1992 all over again – there was Darlene Kordonowy leading a discussion about island planning issues and talking about, of all things, “sticky dots.”

You have to have been around a while to appreciate the reference. More than a decade ago, when the denizens of our newly created all-island city set out to draft a comprehensive land-use plan, the humble adhesive paper dot was the straw-poll medium of choice. At various town meetings – including one in which more than 300 people were asked where they preferred to see future growth, in Winslow or the outlying “villages” – folks enthusiastically filed past large posterboard displays and cast their votes dot by dot, which at the end of the exercise gave colorful illumination to the popular sentiment.

Kordonowy, of course, chaired the vibrant Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee through those heady and dramatic days. So it felt like we’d come full circle Tuesday evening, as the mayor unveiled a process called “Winslow Tomorrow” by which islanders will craft the future not of the island as a whole, but this time of their treasured downtown.

Main Street property owners set a high bar with their recent

planning initiative for parking improvements, roundabouts, pedestrian connections and such; the challenge since then has been to engage a broad spectrum of community interests to test those ideas, bring other thinking into play, and work toward consensus on vision and funding.

The announced formation of a new “Community Congress” – some 75 citizens strong, we’re told – should meet that challenge in spades. We like the metaphor – not for any contemporary allusions, but rather for its ties to the Continental Congress of American lore; there, folks of wildly disparate interests found such commonality of vision and purpose that a nation was founded. While the stakes won’t be quite that high for the

delegates to Winslow Tomorrow, their efforts will in fact define the functionality and look of our commercial core for decades to come. We suspect it will be the most freewheeling planning group hereabouts since the CPAC of a decade ago.

We have indeed come full circle, and for the good. Now it would be fun to see at least one meeting include a poll with the old sticky-dot standard, if only for old time’s sake.

Run for Congress

While we’re on the subject, we should note that applications for the new Community Congress are now available in the mayor’s office.

The application polls hopefuls on their place of residence and their general connection to Winslow Way, be that as shopper, employee, property owner, neighbor, commuter, or what have you. Also sought is information on relevant professional training

(i.e. urban design and planning, arts, legal, environmental,

landscaping, non-motorized travel, etc.) and past public service (elected office, various local boards and commissions), and a brief description of why you would like to serve.

The caveat: the commitment will require four to eight hours per week in two-week increments, over a six to eight-month period. Also needed are several working group facilitators, who will be paid for their greater time commitment.

Stuck in the gallery with notepad and pen, we’ll be more

than a little envious of those chosen to serve with this dynamic group. If you care about your community and your downtown, don’t pass up the chance – apply.

Community Events, April 2014

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