BRONXVILLE, NY — March 5, 2019 — As the Trustees and I embark, with assistance from professional planners, on a Comprehensive Plan for the Village, I have devoted considerable time researching what factors make a community sustainable and desired.
With but a few exceptions, the answers were predictable, but so worth reiterating as we go forward with our review of Bronxville. Very reassuringly, our Village already hits the mark on most of the desired characteristics.
All experts point to the need for planning and a vision for the future, because history has proven communities will grow either by choice or chance.
Someone no less august than Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
In that vein, we are crafting a very specific questionnaire for Villagers, merchants, employees and even visitors to learn firsthand the desires and deficiencies in our Village.
As a first step, we are essentially inventorying our assets; human, natural, structural, business, focusing on what our community has, not what it is missing. All experts agree to accentuate the positive and build on uniqueness. To that end, my personal mantra has become to embrace small.
· A sense of public health and safety
· A quality public education choice
· Historic character
· High quality services
· Cultural amenities
· Attention to roads and infrastructure
· Unique architecture (cookie cutter concept of beauty has long faded since post World War II development)
· High quality senior services (More important than ever as the population ages)
· Public private partnerships, as opposed to everything done via government and taxation
· Enhancement, not adoption of a new identity by improving existing assets
· Education and incentives, not just regulation to effect change.
· Carefully chosen development
· Cooperation with neighboring communities for mutual benefit
· Attention to aesthetics
· Strong leaders and committed citizens to volunteer
As Mark Twain said, “We take stock of a city, like we take stock of a man. The clothes or appearance are the externals by which we judge.”
Beyond the brick and mortar and the landscape and architecture, what appears to be more important than ever are the intangibles – does the community I chose to live in have a heart and soul? Quality of life is paramount in 2019.
Residents, in essence, want to feel safe, supported, trusted and heard. People want traditional small town values, a sense of community and the ability to impact the institutions they care about.
Individuals interviewed who rated their hometowns A plus cited a warm welcoming openness, open space in which to interact, local social gathering places, and a culture of caring for each other be it house watching, occasional child care help or assistance when a tragedy strikes.
It is well documented that connection with people has a significant impact on happiness and even longevity – depression and heart disease decrease and lifespan increases.
Having a walking community adds to the opportunity for conversation, interaction and meeting new people and added cross generational contacts. The days of car to highway to jobs and errands as a desirable lifestyle appears over.
So resonating for me is the desire for most Americans surveyed to live in a community that is accepting of different views – be they sexual, religious or political.
Our questionnaire will focus on asking you as Villagers what you value most in our community so we go forward enhancing and preserving those qualities desired by residents with a true blueprint for action.
# # #
Mary C. Marvin is the mayor of the Village of Bronxville, New York. Share your thoughts by directing email to firstname.lastname@example.org