Thursday, April 28, 2011

Proposals for Sustainability in Skagit County

Project Manager for Envision Skagit -Kirk Johnson - welcomed about 50 members of the general public to a presentation at the Lincoln Center on April 28th.  This was the latest in over a half dozen community meetings Envision Skagit 2060 Community Outreach has held since the beginning of 2011.
The best attended meeting was held this week in Mt Vernon. The discussions were held in Spanish.  Obviously our Latino neighbors care about the sustainable development of their adopted communities.

Senior Resident Fellow for Sustainable Development and Environmental Policy Urban Land Institute in Washington D.C.    Mr. McMahon inspired the audience with slides of small towns around the country that had made dramatic changes in the visual appeal of their communities and subsequently their town revenues.  He had an impressive array of statistic to illustrate how aesthetic appeal is tied to the revenues of a region.    But lovely and lovable communities don’t just happen.  Town and County governments need a plan.  Without one more of Skagit county will look like Aurora Blvd in North Seattle (pictured )
and less like Fairhaven and La Conner.  Ed McMahon posed the rhetorical question with many slides of similar locals to compare: “Where are people more likely to hang out and spend money”.   He believes that with a development plan we will have the courage to say “no” to what we don’t want because we can simultaneous say “yes” to what we do want as our area expands and redevelops to accommodate a growing population.   McMahon encourages us to not to “let the multinational corporations bully us into letting them construct cheap boxes”.  His slides showed how towns across the country encouraged, cajoled and insisted that famous brands like McDonald, Loews & Target locate in restored historic structures or build smaller places with architectural designs that complimented the town plan.  We need to rethink our zoning and transportation so our lands are not totally paved over.

Ed McMahon spoke  quickly to put forth his many ideas about how to change our approach to zoning and land development.  Fortunately his slides were clear and easier to absorb than a thousand words.

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