Tracking code caldwell guardian

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Regional/Ubran Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT)

THE GUARDIAN got his hands on the 1991 R/UDAT study done for the city of Caldwell in 1991. Here we are in the year 2008, fully seventeen years later, and an additional $450,000 dollars worth of additional studies on what should happen in Caldwell. Progress has been pretty dismal looking backward from then until today.

The R/UDAT effort was put together by a group of civic minded concerned citizens of Caldwell and an ouside group of professional architects, planners and former elected officials brought into the community for a cold hard look at our community. The report is pretty blunt and to the point.

The time was ripe and the citizens left to implement the recommendations struck out with a great deal of gusto on number one on the list. Council-Manager form of government. It failed by 16 votes and the R/UDAT report hit the dust heap of Caldwell history.

Page six of the R/UDAT 1991 study recommendations are as valid today as they were when put together in 1991. To be fair, some of the things listed have been done but for the most part we continue to drift as a community without a plan for our future when it comes to using best practices for government, growth and development. Lack of political will, inability to see into the future or take a good look in the rear view mirror of hindsight are the chief faults of elected Caldwell City Government today and for the past seventeen years.

First on the list of recommendations presented to a group of about 450 excited residents hungry for change back in 1991 was to shift the city over to a council-manager form of government. Caldwell was the 113th city to take advantage of the process offered by conducting a R/UDAT study.

AIA architects, certified planners, former big city mayors and other professionals from outside the community shared their collective knowledge and wisdom on the opportunities for improving Caldwell. Best practices of the day went into the R/UDAT report effort.

Skimming over the list of what we needed to implement were strong development standards and to define what we wanted to be as a community. Even and consistent application of well defined community standards (design review) with respect to development and growth were also parts of the report. Reorganize city departments into not more than five city departments whose directors answer directly to a city manager was recommended. Strengthen land use regulations and code enforcement. Create consensus on a strong infill policy of existing undeveloped areas to relive strain on city infrastructure.

What has happened seventeen years later? We spent an additional $450,000 dollars on more studies, created urban sprawl, more demand for city services with haphazard development requiring more and more city water and sewer services miles and miles away from the city center. Allowed strip commercial development to go up in areas not consistent with what was wanted or needed. We paid for (and continue to pay)more and more city infrastructure on the backs of property tax payers and rate payers of the city via poorly executed exactments from developers and "hide the ball" use of a property tax driven urban renewal district to subsidize developers and their projects. Our elected officials quail at the threat of lawsuits if developers do not get their way. Standards and regulations are bent and or broken to accommodate developers at the expense of good planning practices.

THE GUARDIAN would encourage anyone interested in the future of Caldwell, Nampa or Canyon County to take a good look at the 1991 Caldwell R/UDAT study. There is a tremendous amount of 20/20 hindsight as well as forward thinking that went into this report. The City Clerk has it as a PDF and can send it to you via email on request.

Once all the "sweet spots" have been developed in any city in a haphazard unplanned manner it will be party over for the community. People left in the community will be scratching their heads wondering just what happened. Not many cities are in the position that Caldwell has right now with a "do over" for the downtown area and still time to get serious about planned growth within the impact area of our city.

City Manager government will bring a trained professional into the mix and will save us all a lot of money and prevent mistakes as we grow. It won't happen without a bottom up citizen demand for action.

If you don't see anything wrong with the photo in this post you miss the point and all is well.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A public discourse on the issues of the day makes the world a better place.

We welcome comments but they will be moderated and edited if too long or do not have anything to do with the post.
Agree or disagree just do it without profanity or it won't get posted. Try to keep your comments to no more than 300 words. Too long and I will try to edit it down or simply delete the comment. The whole idea is to get people to read your comment. Don't use 10 words when one will do the job.

It's OK to have a difference of opinion but keep it civil. I have used the "delete" feature on myself at times.

The ANONYMOUS feature for comments seems to be the most user friendly. People have commented they have difficulty with the other methods of posting comments.