Message #2 to the newly formed RDA
The following are some of my thoughts as I consider the impact the RDA can have on the region.
Agreement is not only elusive it is counterproductive to the very nature of our mission. The necessary range of our endeavor can only be achieved through a decentralized network of interests.
Organizing a region is one of the most ambitious human endeavors. Concepts at this scale are at the height of what is to be a Metropolis and why the RDA has formed. Where planning is generally considered a local responsibility municipal fragmentation is inevitable. Ordering the regional system has generally taken one of three approaches; social, environmental, or transportation.
Social plans emanating from a concern for creating a better place to live include Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City concept, and today’s New Urbanism. They establish three fundamental foci: The Urban Boundary, The Rural Boundary and Transit-Oriented Development. (NWI does not have regional example of this approach, However we do have a few scattered developments ranging from the worker villages of Marktown and Sunnyside to more recent developments such as Coffee Creek)
The environmentally structured plans include Olmsted and Eliot’s Boston Regional Plan. These examplify how the juxtaposition of nature to human settlements transcends ideology. Concerns for health, recreation, as well as our watershed, land and forests can overcome socioeconomic divisions. (The Marquette Plan as our first and only regional land use plan is a worthy expression of a Metropolis)
Until recent concerns for the environment, transportation had been the strongest determinant of the regional form, and continuous to be the ruling determinant here in NWI. (Again NWI is looking to transportation)
It is my recommendation, as we build this Metropolis and compete against other regions, that NWI and the RDA along with other regional authorities seed and overlay plans along all three approaches, To be a successful community we must learn to juggle many balls, and not ignore any for the emanance of one. From a land use perspective NWI has suffered from the tyrrany of single – use planning (some may argue the lack of planning). We must now acknowledge that this approach has not done us well. It has not been smart nor sustainable.