By Don Henninger
Scottsdale enters a new year, with new leaders and a unique opportunity to bring the city together and work toward a unified vision.
This is entirely possible and if you listen to most citizens it is definitely desired.
It rubs against the grain of some people who make it their business to keep things stirred up. They write anonymous digital newsletters that never have anything positive to say. They stand on the eroding planks of their political pulpits to criticize but never support or praise ideas offered by well-intended citizens to keep the city vibrant and progressing.
That’s the world we live in today, from the national level down to what’s happening in each of our neighborhoods.
It doesn’t mean we have to let it get in the way of progress.
The city’s General Plan is a good place to start. It’s intended to unite residents around a common vision for the city.
It’s long overdue. Mostly because the city has been so politically divided over the past few years that efforts to update the document have failed, even though state law mandates it.
Perhaps most important, is this. The General Plan is a visioning document – not a set of rules and regulations. That’s why laws and ordinances are created. The Plan is about building the kind of city that residents want to leave for their children and grandchildren. It’s really not about us; it’s about what kind of city we want to leave for future generations.
Some people are hung up on that. Some people can’t get out of their own way.
It’s a lot easier to unite people around a vision – a positive vision – for the kind of city they want to work toward than it is to bring people together to debate rules and regulations. The latter are important, but they come later.
Last week the city council thankfully squashed a proposal to create yet another General Plan citizens task force to review the capable work already delivered over the past year by the Citizens Review Committee. Council members, showing wisdom and common sense in their 7-0 vote, instead decided that they would serve as the “task force” to review the work – which they would have done anyway, as their stamp of approval is required on whatever version is sent to the ballot.
There will be plenty of time in the months ahead for every city resident who desires to review the plan and provide feedback on it before council gets its final look. Another task force would have threatened the timing of the process that puts the plan on the November 2021 ballot for voters to decide.
This needs to get done this year. It’s simply time to make it happen. Doesn’t mean it’s easy. It can get bogged down in politics (and it almost did) or by critics who will look for ways to derail it, including those who hide their names behind their comments. This is not an exercise in negativity, rather just the opposite: a chance to position the city for what it should become, not for what it should prevent.
The General Plan process is a test of leadership, a chance to unite residents around a common vision. That’s exactly what the city needs right now.
Don Henninger, executive director of SCOTT, can be reached at email@example.com
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