Gardiner’s Community Preservation Plan is a clear and rewarding read

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Members of the Gardiner Community Preservation Plan committee recently posed for a photo in front of City Hall. Top row: Richard Butler, Jon Benner and Ingrid Haeckel. Middle row: David Dukler, Jean McGrane and Linda Geary. Bottom row: Becky Fullam, Neil Rindlaub and Roberta Clements.

Professional community planners are unsung heroes. They continue to save us from ourselves, stepping in before it is too late to save our beloved towns and villages from ruin through unchecked dollar-driven development. Without their timely intervention, we tend to end up with an ugly sprawl, acres of asphalt, traffic jams, ruined vistas, historic neighborhoods bisected by highways. We may not like spending our taxes to hire them, but we need them if our communities are to remain livable.

If you’ve worked with planners extensively, you may have noticed that the term “Policy Wonk” was coined for these people, and the acronym “MEGO” (my eyes glassy) for most of the reports they write. . In their work, social graces are optional, and enthusiasm for their area of ​​expertise often overwhelms their ability to communicate it clearly to laypeople. With enough exposure, the rest of us can pick up a bit of “Plannerese,” but mastering the lingo takes time.

It is therefore a great relief to be able to report that the proposed Community Preservation Plan (CPP) recently posted on the Town of Gardiner’s website (www.townofgardiner.org/community-preservation-plan) is a thing of beauty. Writing about it seems to call for an approach closer to a glowing movie review than a news report. Gardiner officials wisely invested in an environmental consultant with extensive experience writing CPPs for other communities. Ted Fink of Greenplan, Inc. has done an outstanding job of creating a document that is clear, accessible, and fully understandable for the average person.

Kudos are also due to Neil Curri of PVE, LLC, Ingrid Haeckel of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Vassar College intern Ethan Skuches, who provided extensive technical assistance, particularly with the creation of the GIS maps that are so crucial for this. document. And the project wouldn’t have happened without the volunteer energies of the Community Preservation Committee: co-chairs Jean McGrane and David Dukler, Toni Benevento, Jon Benner, Ilka Casey, Roberta Clements, Rod Dressel, Rebecca Fullam, Linda Geary, Kay Hoiby, Deyano Manco, Marc Moran, Neil Rindlaub, Laura Rose and Warren Wiegand. Gardiner residents who attended the CPP public information sessions or responded to the community survey also played their part.

But I must reserve most of my praise for Fink’s ability to present a great deal of technical data on Gardiner’s natural resources, as well as common-sense parameters for how to prioritize their preservation, in language that does not ain’t Plannerese by a long shot. In fact, the CPP is inspiring, educational, and surprisingly fun to read. I recommend it even if you are not a Gardiner resident and voter (especially if you live in a township that has not yet adopted a CPP).

On the contrary, the text of the CPP errs by excessive repetition of the critical points to make sure that they are integrated. The fact that the City’s acquisition of parcels at risk through the use of Community Preservation Fund (CPF) funds would only occur with willing sellers, for example, is highlighted in bold print more than one time. Nothing is left vague or formulated in impenetrable technical jargon.

Great credit is given to previous plans and studies (over 30 of them over time!) made by the town of Gardiner, with clear explanations of how the goals the community has approved in the past will are naturally translated by the creation of the CPP. . It is a logical culmination, a confluence of many streams of citizen effort over three decades. Adopting it, readers come to understand, will be the icing on the cake, the neatly tied bow atop the package to keep Gardiner healthy and beautiful for the foreseeable future.

Different sections of the 80-page PSC explain, clearly and in detail, how the land preservation process will work, as well as how decisions regarding the investment of funds raised by the proposed land transfer tax will be made by the advisory board. . Much of the document is devoted to examining the resources that make up Gardiner’s intrinsic community character and why. The aforementioned GIS maps, attached as an appendix, illustrate exactly where these resources are concentrated and how they reinforce each other. We see how the cream rises to the top, indeed, on the basis of well-established community values.

Although the general parameters of the CPP and how it works have been known to the public for quite some time, until its publication, the average Gardinerite did not have a clear idea of ​​what the specific criteria would be for evaluating a plot of land, a body of water or other community asset as a top priority for preservation. Fink clearly explains the process by which the Committee developed its five-tier scoring system and how the different conservation values ​​were quantified. If you really want to dig deeper into the level of specific tax plots, there’s even a spreadsheet in the appendix where you can search for them.

There’s a lot more to say about how the CPP, CPF and RETT will work, if the referendum passes on Election Day, and how Gardiner will benefit. But no summary from this journalist will express these concepts with more clarity and elegance than the Plan itself. By all means, go to the city’s website and read it.

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