We have to agree with the Greater Niagara Newspaper editorial to scrap moving forward with a county master plan. In the article, GNN states that "It looks like the Niagara County Legislature is keeping warm this winter. They’re doing it by putting your tax dollars in a big pile and them setting them on fire". Oh the drama.
While we agree with not moving forward with plan, we have different reasons. It's simply not worth the grief you'll receive. A comprehensive plan will dictate a blueprint for growth and development. From what we understand, the legislature has included all communities and every identified stakeholder group in the process. In fact, the title County Comprehensive Plan was changed to Niagara County Communities Comprehensive Plan to reflect the importance of inclusion of every community.
Last week Clough Harbor, the planners, held an informational session at NCCC to reach out to the community for input and feedback. What they got for their efforts were unfounded accusations by Larry Castellani showing a lack of expertise, an attack about their ethics and billing practices for consultants by Rosemary Warren, an accusation by Neil Richardson that the process is “a scam”, that the process should exclude traffic because “there is no traffic in Niagara County”, a question by County employee William Rutland demanding an explanation for the inclusion of the word “Communities” in the title, and the usual incoherent rant from Al Wroblewski about politicians. I have also heard, although not yet verified, that Larry Castellani talked about the loss of 500,000 young people from Niagara County over the last several years. I really hope that an instructor at NCCC did not say something so erroneous. (For those of you who don’t know, the entire population of Niagara County is a little over 200,000.)
Al Wroblewski nailed it when he said, “Why are we here?” Good question. Is this how we move our community forward? Not one single person in attendance offered any constructive input. Not one single person offered a single idea to help move this process forward. Did Larry, Neil, Rosemary or Al talk about preferred locations for business? Did they talk about strains on our infrastructure caused by residential development in Wheatfield and Lockport? Did they talk about the preservation of farmland and the use of natural resources? Did they talk about expansion or reduction of government services? Did they talk about public safety? No, no, no, no and no.
Folks, there is nothing easier to do than criticize other people's ideas. But the real challenge is to work with our communities to develop ideas that will create a real vision. Neil, Rosemary, Al and Larry are not members of that group that will lead Niagara forward. I am absolutely convinced that each of them used the session as nothing more than a forum to vent and satisfy whatever personal needs they have to make themselves look smart or important or to simply fill some void their lives. There is no other valid explanation.
Of course, somehow this is news. I was very disappointed to read the Buffalo News take on this and the amount of coverage dedicated by Tom Prohaska to those people who are not doing a thing for our county. When did Neil Richardson saying that we have “no traffic in Niagara County” become news? (Or at least news I would want to waste my time reading.)
So do yourselves a favor, save the $200k. If nothing else, you can spare yourselves from a few scornful, mean-spirited, albeit misguided, individuals and the oh so intense drama of an editorial board intent on focusing on nothing but the negative.