Does your dream of “doing something” with Round Lake Beach end almost as soon as it starts, with the realization that we just don’t have the budget to do very much?
There is a critical part near the beginning of goal-setting and “visioning” where we must not get distracted with the financial numbers yet. “Working to your budget” guarantees that your aim will be very low, very “practical”, and often very minimal. A hidden trap is that this almost always results in short-range planning, with self-limiting “blinders” which stifle future development of local business, area culture, and the robustness a municipality needs to thrive.
We need the ability to consider the “what if…?”, to envision the great things, the neat and novel things, to set the bar high enough to get results worth going through the hassle of the project in the first place. Once that’s done, with some context (and excitement) of how an idea fits into the larger scheme of things… THEN funding talks can start. They will be geared more towards “Let’s work on raising what we need!”, as opposed to “What can we do with what we’ve got”.
Ilana Preuss is Chief of Staff at Smart Growth America (SGA), and speaks here (12:44) about how essential “Great Places” are within individual communities, as well as the pivotal economic role they play. She addresses three main points:
- Great places are in high demand – people and businesses are moving there
According to a Gallup poll for the Knight Foundation and the National Association of Realtors, people are looking for neighborhoods where they can gather together with their friends, feel a part of a community, and walk to shops and schools from home or work.
- Great places cost government less
New development costs us less when it is in our existing villages, towns and cities. That is the cost to our municipalities and us the taxpayers. Examples abound across the country about regions that are saving considerably on infrastructure costs by encouraging new construction (i.e.: “in-filling” under-utilized strip malls and parking lots) in existing neighborhood centers, and regional downtowns/”gateways”.
- Great places bring in more revenue
Great places also help increase property values for our jurisdictions’ revenue base and support greater business revenue where foot traffic is key.
Great places can start small; they don’t have to encompass the entire village. Where in RLB would YOU bring a guest from out of town?