Shake off the dust

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2008

By Staff
Yet another “vision” for Washington’s downtown/waterfront area is being brought into focus by Citizens for Revitalization, a committee appointed by the Washington City Council to analyze previous studies of that area and develop a strategy to improve the city’s quality of life and bring about economic prosperity.
Other “visions’” for the city’s downtown/waterfront area have been put into the form of plans, including the Renaissance Plan and W.K. Dickson Plan. Parts of those plans have been implemented, but those plans are beginning to get some dust on their covers. Citizens for Revitalization, which has about 25 participants, wants to take the best components of those plans and combine them to make a new plan that is more comprehensive.
Well, one may ask, how will this new plan be different from previous plans? Won’t it put placed on a shelf to gather dust?
The new plan should be different in that it is being put together by people who live in the community, some for all of their lives and others for just a few years. The other plans, although they included input from area residents, were written by people from outside the area. For the most part, their plans were their vision for Washington.
This time it is Washington folks writing the plan. That should make a big difference. There is a better chance their plan will be better received because it is not an outsider telling “us” what to do and how to do it.
The committee said it wants input from Washington residents, merchants and property owners as it develops its plan. That is a must for the plan to succeed. Unless Washington residents buy into the plan and feel like it represents their desires and wishes, they will not support the plan. Without the public’s support, the plan will not be worth the paper it is printed on.
The committee’s plan will not make everyone happy. No plan could do that. The committee’s job, and it is a difficult one, is to come up with a plan that makes as many people happy as possible.
With Chris Furlough serving as chairman of the committee, it will receive solid, fair leadership. Furlough, a developer, has a track record of responsible development. He has a track record of helping build consensus on several community-improvement projects. Furlough will assure that everyone who wants to be heard when it comes to developing the plan will be given an opportunity to present his or her thoughts and recommendations on the issue.
Washington residents not serving on the committee should not leave the job of developing the plan up to the committee alone. It is a plan that will affect them. They should help develop the plan because it will affect their city. They should be involved in helping implement the plan, too.
As for those people who will criticize the plan after it has been developed and presented to the City Council for review and action, it will be fair and appropriate to ask them where they were when the plan was being developed. To some people’s way of thinking, those critics who did not speak up and make suggestions while the plan was being developed failed in their civic duty. As the saying goes, they should be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
With the quality of folks on the committee, Washington should have a plan — in the near future — that will see its pages become well-worn instead of collecting dust.