Regional/Greater Community Development News – June 4, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories

Cuyahoga County's latest efforts to promote regional cooperation are modeled after the Los Angeles area, where county government assists dozens of cities with everything from fire fighting to lifeguards.
Ohio's most populous county recently agreed to provide sewer maintenance for Shaker Heights and is talking about supplying a human resources worker for Brooklyn. And county Executive Ed FitzGerald envisions the county one day providing as many services as L.A.
"It is the only practical pathway to a significant degree of regionalism here," FitzGerald said in an interview… "And it's all by choice."
The goal, as outlined in FitzGerald's state-of-the-county address in February, is to eliminate the duplication of costly services in a county divided into 57 municipalities.
The county's menu of offerings now includes employee health insurance, phone support, sewer maintenance and employee training. At least 10 cities have ordered one or more services. But there's no limit, FitzGerald said.
…Sustainable Communities Initiative was tailor made for communities like greater Cleveland. Northeast Ohio has been sprawling for decades without adding any population, emptying out the notoriously troubled central city while the regional economy consistently under-performs.
Of course, winning a grant and mustering the political will to do some actual transformative planning are two different things. …internal struggle going on within Northeast Ohio’s Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC)…outcome could determine whether the region puts the $5 million grant to good use or wastes a rare opportunity.
Jason Segedy, NEOSCC’s chair, says he is “fighting for the soul” of the organization. The 39-year-old recently addressed the board of NEOSCC in a strongly worded email, saying that the organization was neglecting a major cause of the region’s troubles: failure to integrate land use and transportation planning decisions.
“As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, it is becoming apparent that it is time to reassess the way we have designed our urban areas for the past 60 years,” he said. “Many people today are finding themselves in a situation where they have to drive long distances whether they want to or not.”
“Our transportation system already does not work well if you don’t have a car; and if gas prices rise it will work less and less well for more and more people, including those WITH cars,” he wrote. “Virtually every person in charge of planning our transportation system and developing our land owns a car. They don’t live the reality of long tortuous three-hour bus commutes, walking through broken glass on crumbling highway shoulders (there are no sidewalks) or getting bottles thrown out of car windows at them by angry motorists [while riding a bike].”
It’s not yet clear that NEOSCC has even agreed that the revitalization of the central city and its surrounding communities is an important regional goal — although a profusion of evidence says it should be. …
The Sustainable Communities Initiative proposed by the Regional Planning Commissions in NH allows local towns to come together and develop a long term planning vision for their communities, the region and the state. Described by some as a ‘Master Plan on steroids’ it is a collaborative grassroots effort to integrate local interests, priorities and perspectives into regional plans and ultimately into a state-wide strategy.
The nine regional planning commissions in the state will work with their individual towns to gather information on their planning efforts with respect to land use, transportation, housing, economic development, environmental planning, and public health among other issues to develop a comprehensive plan for the region. It is does not diminish the individual town’s Master plan, zoning or their vision for the future. On the contrary, it would enable towns to review each other’s best practices, goals and plans and arrive at a consensus-based document. …
The Sustainable Communities Initiative is yet another advisory project which will greatly enhance and protect our rural oasis by integrating sustainable development goals and principles in our priorities for future development.
The former executive director of Volusia County's Transportation Planning Organization hasn't changed his mind on the issue he believes cost him his job: the County Council's hope for an analysis on linking SunRail to Daytona Beach International Airport.
"I see part of my job as speaking truth to power, and, sometimes, power doesn't like the truth," Welzenbach said recently after the vote. "So, I stand by my statements -- I still feel that this is not a valid pursuit. I still doubt seriously that after the analysis is done that rail will be the locally preferred option. That's my professional opinion; I didn't make it up, and I stand by it."
…Welzenbach argued, a study would recommend enhanced bus service from the airport to the West Volusia station. Votran General Manager Ken Fischer agreed with him. …
"I have attempted, in the past 12 1/2 years, not to be condescending, but to explain the convoluted, complicated and frustrating role of the MPO," Welzenbach said ...
The Green, the most iconic parcel of land in Morristown, not only is a place for people to hang out, meet up, explore and admire, it's also a traffic circle. With numerous businesses surrounding it, the Green also is an economic hub. It's not just one of these things, it's all of them.
So, why should planning for Morristown's land use future be any more separated?
That has been the thinking of town planners, who are seeking a consultant through the North Jersey Transportation Authority in order to begin "a pilot Local Planning Assistance Program to assist the Town of Morristown in development of a Unified Land Use and Mobility Plan."
This pilot initiative between a regional planning entity like the NJTPA and a local government does not exist in this part of the state. But, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has found success working with municipalties in south Jersey, Abrahmson said, helping towns with such projects as buildout studies and smartgrowth initiatives. "
If you want to make a transportation network better, you need to work with land use," he said. "They needed to go work with municipalities."
There are good reasons to consolidate.…
Follow these tips:
• Focus on value for the dollar rather than just on cost. This will help mitigate the need to continually re-consolidate.
• Understand the perspective of the "customers" of the functions being consolidated and take those into consideration in developing the consolidation approach.
• Consolidation usually involves merging two organizations into one. Consider integrating functions into a new structure rather than merging existing structures into one another. The former involves making things work more seamlessly for the customers, while the latter relies on putting two or more organizations under a single chain of command.
• Usually consolidation involves adding a level of management. Consider a process of "flattening" concurrent with the consolidation process.
But to save money and produce better results, consider these alternatives:
• Create incentives for organizations to voluntarily consolidate…
• Get organizations to follow…
…people shared ideas…on ways to promote economic development in the seven counties that are participating in the Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative.
Objectives of the initiative are to create more higher-paying jobs in the region, find better ways to market the assets of the region to promote job growth and promote local workforce development.
Steve Gilkey, a Lamar City Alderman, offered this observation about the flight of local people who become educated here, but seek jobs elsewhere.
“Our colleges should help us keep our talent here,’’ he said. …
Other ideas included ways to promote image and branding with regard to the seven-county region. One participant said, “We should market our location ourselves.’’
The process to develop a regional economic development strategy is comprised of four phases over eight months that will lead to “an actionable five-year blueprint’’ for strengthening the region’s existing assets to improve the overall quality of life in the Joplin region.
There were jokes, barbs and jabs, but mostly substantive conversation…about growing regional cooperation in metro Detroit and around the state of Michigan.
The overarching theme: Mending Detroit's bruised image and returning the area to a powerhouse of investment, educational opportunity, functioning infrastructure and a place where people want to live and play.
Called the fab five -- Detroit Mayor…Wayne…Oakland…Macomb Co. Execs & Washtenaw Co. BOS Chair…metro Detroit's political leaders gathered …
"Detroit is our global brand and we need to make sure that brand is super strong," said Smith, who isn't always invited to the table when metro Detroit is discussed.
But today, Bing offered Smith, and by extension Washtenaw County, an open invitation to conversations about regional cooperation. Patterson, on the other hand, criticized the county saying Washtenaw did not participate in most regionally taxed assets…
"…Until you pay your way in, you don't get to say how things are done."
“If Mayors Ruled the World” is premised on the notion that of the three elemental political units — empires, nations, and cities — it is cities which have existed the longest and cities which today represent the level at which “things get done.” In an age where the tenets of the nation-state system — sovereignty, independence, and nationhood — are out of synch with the nature of global problems, cities represent the more appropriate scale for finding solutions, sharing best practices, and shaping emergent norms. As Barber puts it, “Radical interdependence requires that we respond to problems through the actors that are not jurisdictionally limited by sovereignty.” Barber believes that cities tend to act more non-ideologically and pragmatically than nation-states. Cities invite the other into themselves and form a collective with them, while nations are defined by exclusion of the other.
A number of current diplomatic processes illustrate Barber’s main argument. Whereas the intergovernmental climate negotiations have yielded little result, mayors have taken aggressive steps to counter greenhouse gas emissions and their joint proposals shaped the final Copenhagen climate summit text. The same is true for the Durban sustainability summit. …
Greater Manchester is set to take control of the region’s railways – in an historic move that promises better trains, more carriages and improved services for passengers.
Transport chiefs in the region are the forefront of plans that would see power over rail services in the north of England devolved from Whitehall.
The Department for Transport would hand over responsibility for rail franchising to a new body made up of transport chiefs from each region in the north.
And supporters say that would bring major benefits to passengers in the region.
The proposals are being put together by Transport for Greater Manchester and its counterparts in south and west Yorkshire. The group will now open serious conversations with transport officials in the north east, Merseyside and Lancashire.
The change would give them the power to demand local priorities from whichever rail operator is awarded the contract to run services, including extra carriages, new trains and station revamps.

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