Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Character Development

by Drew Martin
Never in my life did I expect to put political signs outside my house, but there they are: Voigt, Walsh, Hache. I have always been withdrawn from politics but what changed me very recently was having attended a public meeting over urban-scale development in our small town where I have lived with my family the past 16 years. 

With an overwhelming majority of residents arguing against the development of a monstrosity of a parking garage and high-density housing in the town center that would dwarf the historic buildings and drastically increase traffic, it was remarkable to witness how our mayor flat-out ignored the consensus of the people who live in the area.

My main argument was not against any development but for reasonable buildings that fit into the town. At the meeting I addressed the council and spoke about character. Most of the new development is going to happen a couple blocks from my house so I felt a specific need to defend the character of our neighborhood as well as that of the town. I gave personal examples of beautiful places I have lived including Santa Barbara and Prague and explained how these cities have character that was nurtured into places that everyone wanted to visit.

But forget about my ideals, and think about those places you love the most. You have at least one place in your mind. Perhaps it's your hometown, or an off-the-beaten-path village you visited somewhere on vacation. And then plop a five-story parking garage in the center of it with a couple hundred cars pulling in and out of it. Not so nice anymore is it?

It seems a little trite to talk about these local politics against what's happening at a national stage but it comes down to stewardship and having a sense of control where you live to make you understand that government at every level needs to be of the people, by the people, for the people. What also needs to be very clear is that many mistakes that have dire consequences, such the contaminated water of Flint, Michigan are not pure accidents but rather inevitable disasters, often due to the poor planning of a few people.


It was a landslide victory for Voigt, Walsh, and Hache. Power to the people!