Tonawanda News

Opinion

April 24, 2014

WALLACE: Be part of the solution

Tonawanda News — I recently attended the Town of Tonawanda’s Comprehensive Plan update meeting on Tuesday at the Brounshidle VFW Post in Kenmore. I went as a newspaper reporter but also as a resident of the Village of Kenmore and Town of Tonawanda. 

The meeting was the second public information session for residents to get information about the town’s update of its Comprehensive Plan which was last updated in 2005.  

Members of the Comprehensive Plan steering committee presented findings from the previous meeting in November and data analysis while also seeking additional resident input on what needs to be improved in the town and village.

This whole idea sounds great, right? A municipality looking to residents to tell them how to improve upon the community they live in. This type of planning process is not new and communities all over the country follow this process.

What is sad is that out of a town with a population of 58,144, fewer than 20 people showed up to attend this meeting — and two of those were newspaper reporters. 

I commend the hard work of the planners and steering committee members who poured their time into this. I also commend the residents who did bother to show up and have their voices heard. 

What I don’t understand is why more people did not attend the meeting. After all, it is a chance for them to air their grievances and voice their concerns about the town and village. 

The planners seemed genuinely eager to get input from the residents on how to proceed. They wanted to give residents a hand in shaping the future of the town.

I’ve seen this time and time again. Residents are given an opportunity, either through meetings or public hearings, to voice their opinions on a subject. Hardly anyone shows up to these meetings, which are well publicized. Then when changes are made, people come out of the woodwork to complain they never had a chance to be heard on the subject. 

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