Frustration 2020, Part Six: Recapping the Report Out

Tonight’s theme group meeting took a different form from those past (see my post on the first and second theme group report outs). After the usual introductions and settling down, Rosemary Waldorf, one of the two co-chairs of the 2020 process updated the participants on the timeline and outlined some results of discussions from the Town Council Retreat that took place over the weekend. I’ll get back to this in the minute.

The town staff—mostly Mary Jane Nirdlinger, the town’s assistant planning director—and Faith Thompson, the Chapel Hill 2020 outreach coordinator, presented an outline of the draft plan and an overview of the outreach conducted thus far. After a report out from each of the theme group chairs, an open mic session and a preview of coming events, participants had the chance to give some written feedback at stations for each theme group.

Going back to Waldorf’s update, I have to say that I’m extremely disappointed. After mentioning that when Chapel Hill last updated its comprehensive plan in 2000 it took 1 ½ years with significantly less involvement, Waldorf noted that it was the preference of the Town Council and of her and George Cianciolo, the process co-chairs that a draft plan be presented to the council for approval no later than June.

She said that while this was the goal and while she thought this goal was achievable, the leadership team would make adjustments by late April or early May if they thought it necessary. It’s unclear to me why there is such emphasis on this “deadline” and why the council and leadership team are under the impression that we can create a plan with more meaningful outreach in less time.

The town did a good job with tonight’s meeting in the tactical sense. Frankly I wish they would do more meetings in this style. But we can’t rush things. Good planning is, at its core, thoughtful and inclusive. The process hasn't been thus far, so we need more time to get it right.




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