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Sustainable substance

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010

The City of Kenai's Town Hall meeting on building a sustainable community last Saturday was an impressive event.

Not because of any major policy initiatives or earth-moving revelations. The meeting was impressive simply because it happened.

Saturday's gathering was born from the divisive Alaska Coastal Communities Global Climate Change Compact that failed last fall. More often than not in politics, when a measure like that goes down in defeat, it dies for good despite promises to revisit it in the future.

Not so with this notion of bringing some new, progressive ideas to one of the state's oldest communities.

Granted, it was a small start, with just more than a couple dozen folks attending. But the ideas they tossed out for consideration were encouraging -- curbside recycling, renewable energy sources, more public green spaces, developing a city center, improving the water supply.

Of course, economic development was brought up, too. But the entire context of the day seemed to be centered on building a whole community.

That's significant because it's Kenai citizens saying this isn't just another small industry town or summer playground for other Southcentral residents. This is our home, too. And we want our home to be clean and livable.

City manager Rich Koch hopes to hold these kinds of brainstorming sessions at least once a year. And councilman Bob Molloy hopes to bring some of the ideas from last Saturday's meeting back to the city council for action. Those ideas should also play a part in formulating the city's comprehensive plan, he says.

Obviously, not all these ideas will come to fruition. And even considering some of them will likely lead to additional spirited debate.

But we're just pleased to see that last year's contention over the climate change compact ended up creating something perhaps more meaningful -- a process wherein lots of voices and lots of ideas came together with the singular idea of building a complete community.

In short: Good things can come from disagreement when core values are shared.



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