Despite the beautiful weather Saturday, participants in the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition Retreat spent the day indoors creating a strategy to promote what they see as more responsible urban development.
After a five-hour workshop in the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Building, the group decided that more meetings need to take place.
“This has to be a broader community discussion,” said Mayor Darwin Hindman, who suggested bringing in a consultant to help facilitate dialogue among developers and residential, business and environmental groups. He said the coalition represented just one of many perspectives on urban growth and needed to address its radical perception among residents before it could successfully get its message across.
The 25 participants, some individuals and some representing the 13 groups that make up the coalition, divided into five sub-groups. They discussed how to protect areas of natural significance, support viability of family farms, preserve and revitalize urban neighborhoods, reduce public subsidies that encourage sprawl, and promote regional cooperation.
“I think what happened in New Orleans is an example of why it is important to think about city planning,” said Columbia resident Arthur Mehrhoff, a guest lecturer at Washington University and author of the book “Community Design.”
New faces in the positions of city manager, directors of public works, city planning, and water and light may offer a fresh start to address growth issues, said Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller.
“The timing of this is perfect,” she said.
Coalition Co-Chair Barbara Hoppe said she hopes a broader dialogue group can be organized within the next year.