Long Range Planning
Published 5:35 pm, Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Planning is a valuable municipal management tool just as it is in any business or household. Our town founders had a plan for New Canaan and we have stayed true to the New England town model and it has served us well. But as a community, we want to look forward and continually strive to do a better job of forecasting what our future holds to better serve the town's long-term needs. We want to avoid crisis planning and reacting to unexpected situations.
In the summer of 2008, our budgeting, best practices and planning task forces, composed of members of the elected and representative bodies of New Canaan recognized this situation and proposed many initiatives to improve our financial processes. We have implemented many of those proposed initiatives which have enabled New Canaan to control spending in the most difficult economic environment most of us have ever experienced. Even with the belt-tightening, we have been able to maintain our excellent education system and deliver needed services such as our on-going road paving program. But, we need to do more. All three task forces recognized the need to undertake more long-term planning. Thus developing a long-rang plan for New Canaan's municipal facilities will do a better job of budgeting and caring for our valuable resources. Conversations with town leaders in some of our peer towns who have undertake a similar planning process affirm this belief.
Our town bodies have approved up to $25,000 to engage professional help to define what we need to look at to complete a comprehensive long-term plan. The scoping work should be done in two months or so. I think it is fair to say that some have voiced concerns that the library should remain in its general vicinity. Like many other concerns and preferences, we will want to hear, and perhaps confirm, that sentiment as we begin public forums in next month. The purpose of those meetings is to solicit broad public opinion and suggestions with our professional planner in attendance, to see what people in the community want.
I am pleased to announce a new member of the team that has taken on this valuable effort. In addition to Christine Wagner, Penny Rashin, Neil Budnick, and Steve Kleppin from our Town Planning Deparmtent, I am happy to announce, pending approval from the Board of Selectmen, that Arnold Karp has agreed to join the team. I hope to appoint a fifth member in the near future. I have recommended that the group adopt the name "Long Range Planning Team" to better reflect what we are trying to accomplish: trying to do a better job of taking care our town and its facilities by planning for our future, while recognizing limited resources.
One last point that I believe is important to make, I ask the citizens of New Canaan to remember the responsibility of our town bodies to be accountable to the entire New Canaan community and what might benefit the town as a whole. I am confident our long range planning effort will provide a sensible path forward that will stand the test of time, and am grateful, as we all should be, for the efforts of the Long Range Planning Team.