The New York Times ran another article detailing the difficulties involved with the provision of services in low density areas. It is certainly worth a read in light of our own ongoing municipal discussion over how to provide services to our residents. Olympia is not seriously suffering from these kinds of issues, at least to the degree that some of the examples are, but avoiding problems like these is one of the primary purposes behind comprehensive planning. The article is generally depressing (what isn’t these days?), but there are some hopeful remarks at its conclusion:
Other suburbs are adapting. In Maple Heights, Mayor Jeffrey Lansky embraced the idea of a food bank, setting aside a space for it in 2008 and having the Fire Department help renovate it. The Cuyahoga County Public Library now runs after-school homework centers with snacks from the food bank, aimed at the growing population of poor children.
Edward FitzGerald, the executive of Cuyahoga County, argued that the increase in the suburban poor population could help lead to a fundamental change in local government. For years Cleveland had most of the population — and resources — but policy should reflect the flip in favor of the county, he said.
And with the state slashing funds, counties and the suburbs they contain will have to ramp up social services and economic development on their own, many for the first time.
I am always interested in innovate solutions (i.e. solutions that are not generally recognized as the common response to crisis conditions). As we continue to slog through economic conditions that appear all too tragically normal, it would be well for us to keep such examples in mind as potentially useful arrows in our own quivers.