Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how. (Edward T. McMahon)
How appropriate that our last LFC Program Day gave us a glimpse into the future of Frederick County as we explored the many aspects of planning and change. County Executive Jan Gardner kicked off the morning on a high note by sharing what’s great about Frederick! Did you know that Frederick ranks:
- In the top 100 places to live in the entire country
- The top 100 places in the world for craft beer
So, in other words, we rock!
We learned about smart growth, efficient land use, and our tax dollars at work. We heard about the upcoming Livable Frederick comprehensive plan, and Jan asked us to participate in the visioning process. But, most importantly, Jan challenged us to always be positive about what’s going on in our community.
The Planning Dream Team
Next, we heard from Frederick’s Planning Dream Team– Jim Gugel, Planning Director for Frederick County, and Joe Adkins, Deputy Director of Planning for the City of Frederick. Their message was filled with facts – In 20 years, Frederick County will have:
- 74,000 more people;
- 31,600 more houses;
- 21,600 more jobs
But their message was also filled with hope and inspiration—that it is not about planning, rather about creating a “sense of place.” Is that the “community character” McMahon speaks of?
Next up, it was all about Boomers, Millennials, and Seniors. How and where does Frederick grow in a way that meets the needs of our changing demographics?
We rounded out the morning by participating in a series of round-robin discussion groups lead by Jim Gugel, Eric Soter, and John Dimitriou. By the time we finished, we knew enough about Comprehensive and Capital Improvement Plans to be dangerous, along with several other fun facts. For example –
- The oldest school in Frederick County is Liberty Elementary;
- The online success of Amazon, Netflix, Uber, and Airbnb impact our markets and real estate in Frederick County;
- The Commercial Office Park concept is dead; and
- Redevelopment is a prime growth strategy.
During State Government Day, we may have learned how a bill becomes a law, but over lunch LFC Alum Scott Bowen gave a lively description of how a project becomes a reality. Both are a lot more complicated than meets the eye!
We Try Our Hand at Planning & Land Use
In the afternoon session, we became planners for a day during a fun, interactive, and creative approach to imagining the future of South Frederick County. Led by Denis Superzinski, Principal Planner for Frederick County, our small group teams strategized, negotiated, and repurposed an area of the county that is poised for change. Who knows? Maybe someday we will see the fruits of our labor. At any rate, we ended the day with a better understanding, not only about “whether our part of the world will change, but how.”
Photos courtesy of David Rogers, class of 2016