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Thread: Most planning in the US ignores small-medium cities

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    Most planning in the US ignores small-medium cities

    It seems you see most of the literature is about the big cities and even the small towns and rural areas, but not about your small-medium sized cities between say 20,000 and 200,000.

    Yet, these are the cities struggling the most in many cases. Our "micropolitan" area has about 40,000 people. We face a lot of the same problems in the upper midwest/rust belt as bigger cities, but you certainly don't see much attention paid to these cities.

    I dont think you can treat our city the same way you do Des Moines or even Cedar Rapids.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hawkeye66 View post
    It seems you see most of the literature is about the big cities and even the small towns and rural areas, but not about your small-medium sized cities between say 20,000 and 200,000.

    Yet, these are the cities struggling the most in many cases. Our "micropolitan" area has about 40,000 people. We face a lot of the same problems in the upper midwest/rust belt as bigger cities, but you certainly don't see much attention paid to these cities.

    I dont think you can treat our city the same way you do Des Moines or even Cedar Rapids.
    As I watch the Tour of Colorado...erm... USA Pro Cycling Challenge and see the small towns there, I reflect on the small towns I've planned in. Small town planners know how to get what they need. You use your local knowledge. You don't need big-city ideas in a small town.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    What do you define as a small town? To me its something under 10,000. When you reach 20000 or so you have more aspects of a city.

    Its not that we need big city ideas...its that we need an approach thats not big city or small town but fits the needs of this type of city.

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    Sustainable-Sustainable-Sustainable

    All efforts should be planned around sustainability! Farmers market, local entertainment/talent, local business, tourism even if it is just to local farms. Bed & Breakfasts. Downtown redevelopment to create local enthusiasm and pride. Definitely look at the National Mainstreet website. www.preservationnation.org/main-street/ Also check out the Wisconsin Mainstreet site
    http://www.commerce.state.wi.us/cd/cd-bdd.html. And Illinois website-http://www.state.il.us/hpa/ps/mainstreet.htm.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    As another small-towner, I feel ya Hawkeye66.

    There's at least one Cyburbian on here that is significantly involved with the APA Small Town & Rural Planning division. My impression is they focus more on funding resources, but also offer some pretty timely and useful stuff. For example, their recent newsletter article on stormwater management and regulation of MS4 systems was perfectly timed for me since I was in the process of drafting an illicit discharge ordinance as part of our small town MS4 program. You can see their newsletters here. One thing they certainly seem to get is that planners in small towns often cross-over on a variety of non-planning issues, often dabling in public works, and engineering & transportation design. In general, they specialize in cities under 25,000, with much of their information being especially useful for cities in the 10,000 range.

    Dave Gattis, the division chair, is a good guy and quite well-known in Texas small-town planning & administration circles. He works for Benbrook, TX and is good for picking-up the phone or responding to emailed questions.

    It also sounds like maybe your state chapter needs to step-up a bit more with its interaction and focus on smaller cities.

    What are some of the issues you are facing? A lot of us on Cyburbia work in small towns and can offer a lot of our thoughts.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Hawkeye66's avatar
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    I think our issues are fairly typical for small cities in the upper midwest. Ours has been a company town and a couple of the bigger companies have closed and gone away. The population is down 8,000 from the peak in the 60's. Yet, they try to perpetuate the same strategy; Land a big plant with lots of employment. There are two things wrong with this at least; A) Manufacturing is not labor intensive anymore. You can have a plant that takes several acres but employs 100 people or less and B) It is a tough go with lots of competition. Also, what has this strategy got them over the long term? Yes, some industry came...but it also left. What is left is a town without the base to support the infrastructure or service needs.

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