Is It NIMBY to Want to Participate in Your Town’s Future?
NIMBY, the acronym catch all that is short for Not In My Back Yard. Today class, we are taking on that tiresome phrase.....once again.
We're not NIMBY. We're community stakeholders.
We wrote about NIMBY way back when here: http://www.phillyfuture.org/node/1020 .
In that post (and we quote ourselves), “NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is an misused, annoying acronym at best. To those who call us NIMBY, we have our own acronym to put forth: NATA, which stands for Not Applicable to Ardmore. It's a rather amusing scenario: if you oppose Lower Merion's redevelopment plan you are just lumped to NIMBY. Apparently, the path of least resistance is to lump us all as NIMBY, as opposed to listening to what we have to say, and more importantly, seeing what we have to offer in the way of alternatives....If the township actually sat down and listened to us, we might go from NIMBY to YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard).”
Well, NIMBY, the ABAT of acronyms (Annoying Buzzword At Best), has reared its ugly head again. Frustrated commissioners are using it at meetings again because 2006 has shown that citizens ARE speaking up http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16094254&BRD=1597&PAG=461&dept_id=188818&rfi=6 . Even one of the newspaper editors (Tom Murray/Main Line Life is poking fun of it in his LGTBO editorial (acronym for Last Group To Be Organized) http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16096489&BRD=1597&PAG=461&dept_id=188821&rfi=6 .
And voila, out of nowhere comes a blogger from Overbrook who calls us all NIMBY because the people don’t want a huge urban demeanor for Ardmore, eminent domain, and are suspicious of MUST. http://www.phillyfuture.org/node/2626 (and ensuing comment thread).
While we respect his right to comment, it’s a little unfair. Why? Because, we are the ones who live here, damn it. Just like we won’t call the folks from Belmont Hills NIMBY for not wanting school buses on Croyle Field or a Platinum Plated Pool Complex. It’s their neighborhood; no one knows it better than they do. Period.
Ardmore is sick of being Lower Merion's Mikey - the place to try out everything controversial like eminent domain and MUST. This is a town, not a huge guinea pig on steroids!
MUST butts heads with historic preservation, can cause urban canyons with too tall buildings out of proportion and human scale. MUST needs much more work to be considered even a passable ordinance. As it stands right now, developers don't need MUST to get their projects built, but they want MUST (More Unfair Special Treatment instead of Mixed Use Special Transit) to make everything easier. For them. MUST dilutes the citizen input in new development, and if not handled carefully, will be a disaster taxpayers will have to fund for generations to come.
Now our fellow blogger also commented on him not getting us because Primavera Pizza Kitchen is already a tall building along main street Ardmore. Primavera Pizza is in an old bank building that is a preexisting structure. When you talk about MUST and height this building HAS a setback that doesn't make the height of the building dwarf you. Further and to the point: none of these new buildings are going to be made to look old to fit the existing feel of an older main street oriented community. So comparing Primavera's building to a newly proposed condo is apples to oranges.
We would rather have the quirky appeal of say Media or downtown Wayne, or even West Chester, then become one big new urban canyon of concrete block with stucco overlay. And behind the Schauffle Plaza condo development is a small residential neighborhood. Who is looking out for them?
If we are to be called NIMBY by an outsider because we want a say in our futures, so be it. That would make preservationists everywhere NIMBY, which puts us in excellent company.
Is it NIMBY to not want your town to look like one big condo complex? A resounding NO. We also aren’t alone in that thought process. Tredyffrin Township just K.O.'d a big condo complex that was proposed by a local developer with an interest in Lower Merion: Brian O’Neill http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16094249&BRD=1597&PAG=461&dept_id=188818&rfi=6 . As Tredyffrin Supervisor DeHaven said. "I just don't think it was the thing to do ... what could happen with other properties, storm water issues, there were a million things going against it."
What is the crux of this flowing stream of consciousness from downtown Historic Ardmore this morning? It is simple: as a resident of a specific town you are the ULTIMATE stakeholder in a community. As a resident of the municipality in which the town lies, you also are a stakeholder. Whether immediately impacted due to proximity of a controversial or overly ambitious project, or impacted by overall tax dollars spent, you have a right to participate in the course of your own future. You are paying for it, after all.
To participate in your own future is not NIMBY; rather it is in truth the ultimate smart growth. So to those who call us and groups like us locally NIMBY, we say we are participating in a democratic process. Quit riding the generalist lump term acronym train. You might not like our opinions, but we are entitled to them. We live here. We choose to stay here. We will participate in our futures. We are citizen stakeholders.
Happy Weekend from your pals who hate eminent domain, buzz words, annoying acronyms and folks that don’t get citizen input as one of the most valuable tools of the democratic process.
HAGW (Have A Great Weekend)