Much as we might wish it to be otherwise, the world will be different tomorrow than it is today. Good and bad things happen every day that influence the future and the course of our lives. I believe we have some obligation to do our best to shape things for the better, and that requires foresight.
Foresight is the ability to see things as they might be, followed by the planning and persistence required to either prevent the bad things or make the good things happen. The founders of Albany saw the potential for a community at the confluence of the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers and took steps to begin building it. Surveyors laid out the streets, and early residents began the process of building the foundation of the city we know today.
We have more and better tools now than those the pioneers used to plan communities. We also have the benefit of experience to help guide current efforts. The South Albany Area Plan is a good example of taking advantage of new technology and the lessons of experience.
The South Albany area within the City’s Urban Growth Boundary is larger than the historic center of the town, but is largely undeveloped. Heather Hansen, our Planning Manager in the Community Development Department, has worked with consultants over the past year to help draft a plan designed to make the South Albany area a nice place to live and work. Putting together the plan sounds relatively simple, but it has required outreach to property owners and residents of the area to hear their views, working with state agencies that have an interest in the plan, communicating with the Planning Commission and City Council, and the technical work involved in putting the plan on paper.
The result of this work is a series of maps showing where industry, businesses, and homes will be located, as well as streets, trails, parks, and other amenities. I admire this effort, perhaps because I don’t believe I’m particularly good at it. I think it’s a real talent to visualize what a place can be and to develop the plan to make it happen.
I know I routinely take for granted the good planning that has gone into making Albany a nice community, and I regularly notice where mistakes were made. Our planners probably don’t receive the recognition they deserve for all the good work they do to improve the community. Heather, David, Anne, and Mike make a difference every day; and the South Albany Area Plan is just the latest example of the foresight needed to shape things for the better.