Regional/Greater Community Development News – August 6, 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
Is it time to start saying: “Some of our Adirondack communities are not dying, they are dead”?  
A Divided Land?
Do We Have a Park?
What is “Community”?
An Adirondack Doctrine
A Tri-Lakes Economic Center?
A Regional Community
From an Adirondack Park perspective, we may need to focus more on regions than on communities. In our effort to save everyone we may save no one.
And the environmental community needs to recognize this too. As our basic amenities go away, the strain of over usage in certain areas like the High Peaks will continue to worsen while other natural areas of the Park become abandoned.
Before talking about “smart growth” and “sustainable life” we may need to agree on first creating a true Park and that our efforts focus on regional economic centers.
This may take changing historical local and APA boundaries. For example, is it possible to trade building rights or density not from the same property owner but between different private and public lands to make appropriate development happen to create these regional economic centers?
More importantly it may require a change of perspective of what is a “sustainable community” in the future to one of a more regional definition.
Perhaps that will be a real test if indeed we have achieved consensus which may need to begin with the creation of a true "sense of place" we call a Park.
The proposed transportation sales tax got steamrolled by voters Tuesday, with 63 percent voting against the plan to raise billions for a controversial list of projects aimed at unsnarling traffic and improving transit in a 10-county region. So what’s next? We asked two leaders on each side of the T-SPLOST issue to suggest what needs to be done to find regional consensus.
By Bucky Johnson (Norcross mayor and was chairman of the T-SPLOST regional transportation roundtable)
 Over the past 15 months, I have had the opportunity to travel around the region to speak about the Transportation Investment Act of 2010. There was overwhelming agreement that metro Atlanta has a transportation problem. This was the first time in the history of metro Atlanta that a regional vote for transportation improvements has been attempted. …
By Steve Brown (Fayette County commissioner)
Easing metro Atlanta traffic congestion will require a systemic transformation of the bureaucratic process we now endure.
Economic development, often a hot topic, came to a boil in Peoria last week.
…more than 200 community leaders attended a session at the Peoria Civic Center to create "a more successful regional economic strategy."
In a lightning strike, a determined faction of the community had staged a coup, upsetting the established economic development apple cart. You don't see that very often in Peoria.
McConoughey's 10-year tenure as Heartland head was not without accomplishment, but the cry for regional collaboration and administrative transparency called for change.
Consultant Frank Knott, brought in last year to research the issue by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, shared his findings at the July 26 program at the Civic Center.
He started with the fact that central Illinois has plenty of assets but wasn't making the best use of those advantages.
Those that stormed the EDC palace promoted democracy. "Of the 300 community leaders we interviewed, many said they were being asked for their input for the first time," said Knott.
Telecommunication upgrades and trees are among the tangible benefits the Tampa Bay area will see right away as a result of the Republican National Convention, but the most lasting impact of the gathering may be regional economic development cooperation.
 The RNC … offers local businesses, governments and civic groups an unprecedented opportunity to work together to promote the area nationally as a good place to do business, said panelists at the Tampa Bay Business Journal's "The Economy Convention" event Monday afternoon at the University of Tampa.
A new regional economic development agency emerged after the last RNC in 2008 in the Twin Cities, Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis, Convention & Visitors Association.
The opportunity here is enhanced because there are new elected and appointed officials in key posts who are not interested in fighting about political and geographic boundaries, said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
"Those days are over, as well they should be," Buckhorn said. …
Regional government consolidation? Progressives won’t touch it. California municipalities careening toward bankruptcy don’t mention it. Leaders of the national movement for land banks talk about inside-the-boundaries development schemes, and sometimes about regional land-use planning, but they throw up their hands at it.
The tax bases of shrinking Rust Belt cities are too small to sustain services and meet infrastructure requirements, …
But except for a recent letter to the editor of the Syracuse daily newspaper, a letter proposing that the soon-to-be-broke City of Syracuse decertify itself as a separate entity so that Onondaga County can become the greater city and take over city functions, American urbanists don’t talk consolidation.
Instead, the newest version of the City Beautiful movement is underway. …
Across the land, city governments and town governments and county governments go it alone, pursuing developments alone, pursuing financial work-outs alone, electing and re-electing crowds of officials each by themselves, drawing up master plans that rarely intersect, hiring consultants to do studies and to propose alternatives that somehow, inevitably, leave every boundary unchanged. A senior bond attorney on Wall Street once told me that while he understands the rationale for consolidation, his firm wouldn’t be helpful anytime soon, because each issuance of a bond by each city, town, county, school district, sewer authority, or other entity was a fee to his firm. The historically low interest rates of today provide a fabulous opportunity to gather up lots and lots of old outstanding debt, bundle it up, create new super-entities (like, oh, regional or metro-wide governments) and get rid of all the clutter—or at least some of it—but the municipal bond industry isn’t the outfit that is going to make it happen.
Meanwhile, luminaries at various Washington think tanks employ the term “metro” and “metropolitan,” but neither they nor their conferees, being generally short on the experience of ever having tried to adjust the boundaries of a shrinking city, address the linked problems of tax-base shrinkage, depopulation, sprawl, aging infrastructure, and abandonment.
Former Met Council Chairman Ted Mondale said public officials in other states are envious that Minnesota has a regional planning agency like the Met Council.
Called one of the best ideas on governance ever to come out of Minnesota by a former chairman — called other things by irate city councils — the 3,600-employee strong Met Council casts a long shadow in the seven-county metro area.
The agency, comprised of three separate operating divisions — transportation, environmental services and community development — oversees 600 miles of regional sewer lines, collecting wastewater from 106 metro communities, two million residents.
… the Met Council, regardless whether a Republican or Democratic governor is in power — governors appoint the 17-member council — just upsets some people.
One affordable housing advocate views the stars aligning at the Met Council.
“I think looking forward it’s promising,” said Executive Director Chip Halbach of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, a coalition of organizations focused on homelessness and affordable housing.
The Met Council current annual budget is about $778 million.
About 39 percent of the council operating budget is state funding, with wastewater treatment charges making up about 22 percent of the revenue.
Baseball in the Bottom is back in the news. The zombie of two failed campaigns to build a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom walks again. No doubt, there will be much said about that zombie in coming months.
Meanwhile, just because people keep bragging about what a perfect economic driver baseball will be if you put it here, or there, doesn’t make any of it true.
Using minor league baseball to fix the perceived problems of a blighted neighborhood probably won’t work and saying it has worked that way in several other markets isn’t true. Comparing what has happened in minor league cities with Major League Baseball's history is a reach.
Let’s face it, as long as the City of Richmond won’t allow Henrico County and Chesterfield County fair representation on the Richmond Metropolitan Authority's board, any talk about regional cooperation to build ANYTHING under its auspices is a waste of time.
Six New England states led by Massachusetts plan to coordinate purchases of renewable energy, leveraging their scale for better pricing and encourage more clean energy diversity in the region.
The move follows Massachusetts' own move to encourage a competitive bidding process for renewable energy projects.
Under the resolution passed unanimously during the New England Governor's Conference in late July 2012, the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) will develop a request for proposals to be issued in 2013.
The resolution directs "NESCOE and their regulatory and policy officials to implement the work plan and any regulatory proceedings or procedures as are necessary or appropriate to execute the coordinated competitive regional procurement of renewable power, with the goal of issuing a solicitation for procurement by the end of December 2013."
Two separate geological studies released this week suggest the earth-quake hazard in the transboundary region of the Pacific Coast of North America - including southern British Columbia - is significantly greater than previously believed.
Both teams of U.S. scientists are urging heightened readiness throughout the region for a future offshore "mega-thrust" event that could compare with the one that triggered Japan's earth-quake-tsunami-nuclear catastrophe last year.
In one study - a 13-year comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia earth-quake-prone zone between Vancouver Island and Northern California - a team of researchers concluded the "clock is ticking" ahead of a potentially devastating earthquake in the region within the next 50 years.
"Over the past 10,000 years, there have been 19 earthquakes that extended along most of the margin, stretching from southern Vancouver Island to the Oregon-California border. These would typically be of a magnitude from about 8.7 to 9.2 - really huge earthquakes."
A Wairarapa business group and think tank has rejected the need for the region to join with Wellington, saying business will be better off with one regional district.
Consultants working on the Wairarapa Governance Review decided the region would be best served by one authority – a Wairarapa district council, born out of amalgamating South Wairarapa, Masterton and Carterton district councils.
Self-funded Wairarapa Development Group agrees. Chairman Shane McManaway is reluctant to see the region swallowed up in the greater Wellington area.
The capital city is in the throes of its own local government review, which includes an option to create a supercity type council, encompassing its northern neighbour.
“We don’t believe a unitary authority is good for the region. We don’t believe we have enough critical mass as an entity to get the value of the big powerhouse that the Wellington regional council can give us,” Mr McManaway told NBR ONLINE.

This new study explores the implications of a major financial crisis for the supply-chains that feed us, keep production running and maintain our critical infrastructure. I use a scenario involving the collapse of the Eurozone to show that increasing socio-economic complexity could rapidly spread irretrievable supply-chain failure across the world.
It is argued that in order to understand systemic risk in the globalised economy, account must be taken of how growing complexity (interconnectedness, interdependence and the speed of processes), the de-localisation of production and concentration within key pillars of the globalised economy have magnified global vulnerability and opened up the possibility of a rapid and large-scale collapse. ‘Collapse’ in this sense means the irreversible loss of socio-economic complexity which fundamentally transforms the nature of the economy. These crucial issues have not been recognised by policy-makers nor are they reflected in economic thinking or modelling.

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