To the editor:
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” George Harrison put Lewis Carroll’s words (paraphrase) to music 25 years ago, and they’re particularly relevant to Tiverton as it considers employing a town planner.
Tiverton needs to have a clear, sustainable and achievable long-term plan that considers community priorities, showcases the town’s best features, mitigates potential challenges, and promotes thoughtful growth. A town planner can help evolve and drive Tiverton’s long-term plan in the following ways:
A paid, full-time town planner will be able to devote the time needed. Volunteer groups can provide a broad range of experience and expertise to help shape a community’s plan, but many members own a business, are employed full-time or have other commitments that may make it difficult to fully engage in driving it.
While private citizens and board members have vast knowledge and expertise in many of the areas associated with a comprehensive plan, an experienced town planner is well-versed in all aspects, such as infrastructure, disaster recovery, zoning, architecture and transportation. The planner can also call on citizens with particular expertise and coordinate research and analysis efforts.
The town planner will be responsible for building relationships within, and outside, the community to achieve the plan’s objectives. Leadership is critical since the plan’s implementation will most likely require coordinating efforts between town departments, the state and even neighboring communities.
One of the most important benefits of having a paid, full-time town planner is that the employee can be held accountable. The planner’s job performance will be evaluated periodically, and if appropriate objectives are documented and quantifiable, satisfactory (or unsatisfactory) performance can be measured.
Successful community leaders know where they want to go, or they know that direction is needed. I applaud the Tiverton Town Council for identifying the need for a planner. Without one, our community will be at the mercy of developers and outside interests. And we all know they have only one goal.