Regional cooperation and collaboration is no easy task in Nutmeg State. The third smallest state in the Union in terms of square kilometers, Connecticut has 169 municipalities, as well as numerous boroughs, fire districts and villages. All these local entities fiercely keep their judicial independence.
Despite this fractured factionalism, the Southeast Connecticut Council of Governments has a long record of regional achievement. It has carried out a variety of collaborative projects between its 22 cities, taking it well beyond the regional planning efforts that formed its foundation. In fact, it was the breadth and diversity of the work that first attracted SCCOG Executive Director James S. Butler to this post 23 years ago.
Butler recognizes many successful regional efforts of which he is proud. These range from emergency management planning and regional geographic information system mapping to forming an opioid task force and creating a COVID- response. 19 effective. In addition, SCCOG has involved officials from the two tribal nations in the region, as well as the Coast Guard and the submarine base in numerous projects. In 2017, SCCOG was named Great American Defense Community by the Association of Defense Communities, in recognition of its work on behalf of the military.
âWe’re a pretty flexible agency,â says Butler, who announced in October his intention to retire on July 1. He will remain with the agency as a part-time senior advisor when Deputy Director / Director of Special Projects Amanda Kennedy takes office. leadership role.
The region owes a huge debt to Butler, the work SCCOG has accomplished since its formation in 1992, and the city leaders who have joined forces under the auspices of the council. For years, The Day has advocated for an increase in regional projects, collaboration and cooperation between municipal government entities. SCCOG, under the leadership of Butler, demonstrated the wide variety of ways in which such collaboration can be achieved.
Since the time in 2000, SCCOG moved its offices from a somewhat dilapidated old school on Boswell Avenue in Norwich to an office building on Connecticut Avenue in the city’s Stanley Israelite Business Park, the agency said that “regionalization is here to stay,” Butler said. The SCCOG was the first council of state governments to buy its own offices rather than rent them.
This demonstration of the permanence of regional collaboration has enabled the agency to act as a conduit for hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants for the purchase of emergency management equipment, creating the Southeastern Connecticut Housing Alliance which calls for an increase in the number of affordable housing. in the region and the establishment of a mentoring system and educational programs for city officials who are stressed by unprecedented levels of public criticism against them via social media.
In addition, the SCCOG also continues to work in the field at the origin of its creation: regional planning. The agency provides planning services to cities that do not have their own full-time planners, employing five planning and zoning commissions and two inland wetland agencies. Soon, the council will expand this area of ââwork by providing zoning and code enforcement services to member cities.
We salute Butler’s leadership and SCCOG’s dedication to regionalization. We wish Kennedy the best of luck when she takes the helm of the agency and advocate that she continue to work to increase the numbers and broaden the diversity of regional efforts. Thanks to SCCOG under Butler’s leadership, the regional collaboration may no longer be akin to breeding the proverbial cats, but there is still some way to go before regionalization is as pervasive as we think.
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