Plan­ning fa­cil­i­ta­tor not enough

Rappahannock News - - EVENTS -

The let­ter from United Cit­i­zens of Rap­pa­han­nock’s is­sues com­mit­tee chairs was help­ful in list­ing many of the crit­i­cal is­sues that need to be ad­dressed in the county’s plans . . . and in its gov­er­nance. Their pro­posal that county funds be used to hire a pro­fes­sional plan­ning fa­cil­i­ta­tor was one idea to help devel­op­ment of a use­ful plan.

How­ever, fa­cil­i­tat­ing a plan­ning ses­sion of a whole bunch of dif­fer­ent opin­ions with­out the facts and analy­ses to back them up may not lead to a con­struc­tive and re­spon­sive plan. Be­cause at the end of the day a strong plan for to­mor­row is only as good as the in­for­ma­tion that goes into it re­gard­ing what the sit­u­a­tion is to­day and how that has changed from yes­ter­day.

That’s why the Vir­ginia code re­quires a plan to “make care­ful and com­pre­hen­sive sur­veys and stud­ies of ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and trends of growth, and of the prob­a­ble fu­ture re­quire­ments of its ter­ri­tory and in­hab­i­tants.”

Do the folks charged with de­vel­op­ing the com­pre­hen­sive plan have the re­sources needed to do that? My guess is that they do not — these are all peo­ple with jobs and oc­cu­pa­tions who spare their ex­tra time to help in this en­deavor. A con­struc­tive idea may be to see if UCOR and its large list of prom­i­nent mem­bers could raise the money to pro­vide the el­bow grease needed to do that re­search­ing, sur­vey­ing and an­a­lyz­ing, as well as pro­vide vol­un­teer ci­ti­zen com­mit­tees that can help the county planners with their work.

We’ve seen a suc­cess­ful model of that in the county. The Foothills Fo­rum has funded pro­fes­sional jour­nal­ists who have de­vel­oped com­pre­hen­sive and award win­ning fea­ture ar­ti­cles backed by ex­ten­sive data gath­er­ing and anal­y­sis run by this paper on key is­sues in the county. CASIMIR EITNER Castle­ton

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