Tonawanda News

Columns

June 13, 2014

ADAMCZYK: The problem with self-appointed experts

Tonawanda News — The Congress for New Urbanism knows how to party. I know because I attended the blowout at Larkinville on the final night of their convention in Buffalo, last week. This is the organization of urban planners, theorists and those in the public service trade who specialize in promoting the concepts that neighborhoods should be walkable, cars should not be a community’s highest priority and generally, that residents’ needs supersede everything else. Honorable ideas.

So they came to town, praised a few things, lambasted a few more, the younger ones probably passed around resumes by the dozen, and sucked up their idea of the gospel from movement leaders they regard as rock stars, and that’s fine with me.

I thought about them, as I walked around my hometown of Kenmore the other day. Delaware Avenue looked great; it typically does but in summer it’s the small-town version of spectacular. People were out, the trees and flowers were blooming, kids played on the Village Green, businesses were humming. Dogs were being walked on Delaware Road. Young people carrying sports gear bicycled to someplace. A beautiful scene, repeated daily until winter comes.

My connection to the local affiliate of the Congress for New Urbanism is a tenuous one, but I have friends there, and they regularly organize tours of communities. Urban specialists walk around, get informed, offer suggestions and ideas. A contact once informed me nearly every suburb in Western New York has undertaken this sort of visit from them but they had not received a welcome from Kenmore.

Hamburg and Williamsville were among the places that had, and when the conventioneers came to Buffalo, those were the suburban marvels they visited. And they loved them.

I have long wondered why Kenmore government gave something of a cold shoulder to these dedicated authorities, and my post-convention stroll nailed it for me: Kenmore accomplished its goal, of a beautiful Delaware Avenue streetscape, without help from self-appointed experts.

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