Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another plan ...

More static planning?

Not that this a bad idea, in fact it may turn out to be very productive.

But the idea of, once again, one group trying to plan an entire region's future strikes me as more of the same. A new report, no matter how professional, divorced from or marginally connected to all the other projects, ideas, organizations etc, won't get the job done.

As one example in hundreds, how will the creators of this report interact with the study being conducted at Dowling regarding a possible 51st state? Aren't both looking at many related issues?

Another example. How will the creators of this report interact with the many planned and operating business incubators/accelerators to determine potential business growth and the type of business growth for the next 50 years or so?

The point is that almost everything on Long Island has some bearing on everything else occurring on Long Island. Changing one thing potentially creates a domino effect.

We must know with reasonable certainty what these outcomes are likely to be or making change will be almost impossible to sell to elected officials, general public and Long Island organizations.

We need dynamic, real time planning. It must be inclusive and collaborative. It can not be mandated, it must contain many options and it must contain productive public input (not complaints or NIMBYism) from a diverse assortment of individuals and groups.

Before you plan, you must know what and who you're planning for. What type of future are you planning for Long Island?

Traditional planning models and techniques may be helpful, but they are not enough to change the course of Long Island history in a meaningful, sustainable manner.

Create a Long Island philosophy. Rethink how everything is done.

Editorial: LI needs new planning blueprint

Long Island can't go on like this: choking traffic, little mass transit, lack of affordable housing, threats to open space, unbearable property tax burdens and a sputtering economy - to name a few of our problems. We need a smart plan to recommend specific actions, and we need the commitment of our public officials to carry it out.

The Long Island Regional Planning Board took a first step yesterday toward that kind of plan. It looked westward to
New York City, whose PlaNYC is a model of both crunching the numbers and laying out doable recommendations.

The consulting firm that had a lot to do with creating that plan is McKinsey & Co. And Long Island's planning board served notice yesterday that it intends to hire McKinsey to create a blueprint for sustainability here - unless another firm offers a better proposal. Local not-for-profits have offered $500,000 toward the eventual $1.5 million to $2 million cost of the study if McKinsey does it.

To be a success, any plan must have strong action recommendations, plus staunch political backing. A word of warning: One of the 127 initiatives in PlaNYC was congestion pricing, which timid Albany lawmakers have just killed. The lesson is not that we don't need a plan, but that even the best blueprints need courageous politicians. Whatever McKinsey recommends, if the top leaders of the two counties don't fight for the tough changes this study is likely to urge, we'll be stuck in the same sad rut.

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