WITHIN CITY LIMITS: Episode XII, How Do I Join the New Albany Planning Committee?
By Nick Vaughn, Guest Columnist
For those of you who may not know, there is a new planning committee in New Albany tasked with developing a plan for what New Albany can look like in 20 years. Does this sound familiar? It should. When I was running for City Council I created my Vision Outline for New Albany. I dreamt of a land that had renter registration, anti-poverty initiatives, incentives to bring jobs back to New Albany, and a land where unelected boards did not will their power unchecked by elected officials. So, if I have a plan, how do I join this planning committee?
Does it surprise anyone, though? Not a single average, everyday New Albanian is represented on this new committee let alone a young person who might actually have a vested interest in steering the city in a direction that will allow young people to flourish. It is important for prominent New Albany businesses to be represented on this committee and I guess some outside businesses as well, however, it makes zero sense as to why there is no true resident representation on this committee. This is especially ironic because the 20 year plan will affect those who reside and own a home or rent here in New Albany most likely before it affects a business or commercial property owner.
Unsurprisingly, the means in which this committee was chosen is completely in the dark and kept away from the people of New Albany who have a right to know who will be making a 20 year plan for their city. Of course, this non-transparency just fits the narrative of the Gahan Administration as well as a go-along-to-get-along, Democratic Majority City Council. How were these people chosen? Who chose them? Why were they chosen? Why does the City Council have no oversight? Is the City Council going to be represented? In my experience, a committee or government entity that has more questions asked about it than can be answered is a committee or government entity that I don’t want representing my interests.
The largest question, though, might be how much power does this committee have over the people of New Albany? None of the members, to my knowledge, have been voted into their position by the people, the City Council did not confirm these committee members, so does this committee even hold any meaningful power?
Before anything else, this committee needs to appoint some citizens, young, old, and in between. If they do not I cannot see how they can possibly be able to effectively steer the community in a direction that will benefit the citizens. As of right now, the only benefit that could come from this committee would be more crony capitalism propagated by City Hall where unelected bureaucrats pick the winners and losers of the New Albany economy. That is not what New Albany needs, we need a citizen-oriented committee who will create a 20 year plan of not only economic prosperity but also community change where someone isn’t afraid to let their kids play in their front yard and where a near quarter of the population can’t afford to make ends meet.
Furthermore, this committee, since it is creating a plan for the future, should have young adult members. Young people are the future of New Albany and whether we can retain them or not will prove to be the crucial task for our community over the next 10 years. Young people don’t just want a place to play, they want a place to live and potentially raise a family. New Albany, unfortunately, only offers a playground for the upper middle to upper class people with money to spend. We do not currently have an effective climate for the up-and-coming young entrepreneur or young lawyer, etc.
If we do not get some young people on this committee then our 20 year plan will be for nothing. We will continue to lose young professionals to Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, and Louisville and continue to have a city seen as a playground by some but a socioeconomically segregated city by those not predisposed to success by means of birth. This is a sad truth that doesn’t have to be.