Monday, September 12, 2011

Community Conflicts

Today's Ticker: TCFF & Paella: Summer 2012 Woes hit on something I was thinking about this past weekend.

No, not "these pirates are not historically accurate representations of pirating in the Great Lakes" nor was it "I have to pay for a Pirate breakfast and coffee is $1.75 extra?!" but rather "how many festivals are there?"

This past weekend we had the Michigan Schooner Festival, the Epicurean Classic, the NMC Mike McIntosh Memorial Truck & Car Show, and Acme Fall Fest. I'm sure I am missing some things.

The most people I saw at the Schooner Festival were the throngs outside of the paid area to watch the ships under sail Friday night. The Epicurean Classic was using tents on Garland St. - less dignified surroundings than in previous years and I heard turnout was less too.

In August The Commons has a Wine and Art Festival one weekend and a Microbrew and Music festival the next. Wuerfel Park had a beer festival this year too.

So many festivals, so little time. Could any of these be combined or scheduled more efficiently?

For example, if the Classic Boats on the Boardwalk and the Schooner Festival were the same weekend wouldn't their combined draw be more than each on its own?

Who could be a liaison between all of these festivals?

Mayor Bzdok wants a Neighborhood Ombudsman.

I've been against the City adding a neighborhood advocate because:

1.) isn't this why we elect City Commissioners?

2.) we need to think of ourselves as a single City rather than a series of tribes or neighborhoods.

3.) neighborhoods tend to advocate for their own interests rather than the City's best interest.

Examples include Slabtown neighborhood wanting their own beach even though there is a nearby existing beach and research shows beach grooming degrades fish habitat directly offshore and up to 150 ft along the shore.

Central neighborhood wants to keep Seventh and Eighth streets one way even though it can be easily demonstrated that two-way streets are better for the neighborhood and city.

Old Town Neighborhood Association wants a bypass built next to Boardman Lake even though a comprehensive 10 year traffic study from the University of Toronto clearly shows more roads always lead to more traffic.

Three neighborhoods wanting what they think is best for them but when taking the big view could actually lower the quality of life in the City.

I am not sure someone advocating for the neighborhoods would help.

Something that might help is this question a friend posed: why don't we elect City Commissioners by district like at the County? I like it, each neighborhood could elect their own commissioner and then each neighborhood would have their own official advocate.

Then could the Neighborhood Ombudsman idea be expanded into a Community Ombudsman? Someone who could coordinate events and resolve conflicts with all of these festivals and non-profits and also serve as a single point of contact for citizens' concerns and complaints.

Just a thought I had this weekend.