T

he question of whether to hire a city planner for New Albany has arisen several times since the past municipal elections.

Generally, the new members on the board of aldermen see the need to hire one while older members say we are already in the middle of a comprehensive plan and the money for a consultant would be better spent on needs cited in that plan.

While proponents of hiring a planner concede some parts of the existing plan have been executed, they say others have not and the current plan is too limited in scope.

They want someone to objectively look at transportation, land use, quality of life and green projects, economic growth, historic preservation and other factors in the community.

We are not opposed to someone’s taking a fresh look and are in favor of having a comprehensive plan, if it is practical.

But we also agree that we already are aware of many things in our community that need to be addressed now. We have heard from planners and developers and designers before and much of what they said was only common sense.

Water, wastewater, streets, certainly need attention. We know we need to make our city entrances more attractive and there are some rough spots in our zoning. We know our commercial growth is nearly all in one lopsided direction rather than all around, and actually pulling away from our historic downtown area.

In some cases, we know what needs to be done; in others, we still do not.

As it stands now, hiring a high-priced consultant would likely only provide another expensive document to store in a drawer somewhere.

There is no point in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new plan unless the city is willing to spend the considerable amount of money it will take to implement the plan – likely issuing bonds and raising taxes. That has not been in evidence in the past.

And a plan is no good if it is just a goal, a destination, unless the plan also provides the detailed directions on how to get there.

A new city plan is worthless unless it gets full moral and financial support from elected officials and the community. 

If we can have that, then, perhaps, buy a plan.

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