Feeling the Terrible Results – John Allen
Clinton is at a defining moment in its history. This latest budget referendum drama should serve as a strong exclamation point to this. It’s now “them versus us,” neighbor berating neighbor in long-running, nasty social media battles. We need to stop. We face major decisions on many issues that will have long-term impacts on our town, not just for economic development, but in issues such as a declining and aging population, maintaining quality education without the need for tax increases, long-term waste water treatment, historic preservation of out town’s assets, affordable housing, and coastal resiliency, etc.
Over the last three years, I’ve met with executives of many towns in Connecticut, towns with which we compete for residents, businesses, developers, and grants. A very important takeaway: Every successful town has a full-time professional town planner; many have a professional economic development director as well.
We have neither. And we are feeling the terrible results.
We are blessed to have boards and commissions filled with folks who are passionate and dedicated, volunteers who truly care about our great town. But no matter how much they care or how hard they work, they (and, therefore, we) cannot compete with towns that employ professionals, whose education, training, experiences, and relationships are focused solely on planning and executing a town’s sound economic development.
The status quo serves no one well; everyone is upset and no one is really satisfied where we are. Clinton needs to change the status quo. We’ve been saying “this just isn’t the year to do it” for the last five years. Unless we want to continue this wrenching “budgettaxeducationreferendum” downward spiral nightmare, we must recruit, properly vet, and hire a full-time town planner now. It has never been more critical to Clinton and it will never get easier.
Published Jun 13, 2018 – https://www.zip06.com/letters/20180613/feeling-the-terrible-results