Be involved before its too late
My vision is of concerned residents involved in discussing and implementing ideas to help manage the growth that is coming our way. The U.S. Census predicts that the population of Pike County will be close to 80,000 by 2020; our current population is around 52,000. Where will these 30,000 people live, and how will our quality of life be sustained with this influx of growth?
This is an important time for us to voice our opinions on what we envision for our area, particularly Pike County. Our quality of life is linked to stewardship of our natural resources, and we need to take this responsibility seriously. When we look back at these formative years of Pike County, will we ask ourselves why we didnt do anything sooner to preserve our natural resources? Why we didnt demand that our elected officials prepare for this inevitable population growth and its effects on our quality of life? Why we didnt ask for help from neighboring counties and learn from their experiences with growth? Why the egos of many failed to inspire in us the strength and confidence to implement forward-thinking land use initiatives to save our rural way of life?
We must be clear in our vision of what we want our communities to look like, how we want our municipalities to run, and what type of businesses we want established. We must make ourselves accountable for the future of our natural resources and our communities.
It is important to get involved! Go to your township meetings; go to your commissioners meetings; write a letter to the editor to voice your opinion. If not now, then when? When your neighbor who lives up the hill bulldozes every tree on his property and the storm water runoff from every rain event is now in your basement? When the drainpipe in front of your house is overflowing and tearing the bank away from your front yard? When a sign appears on a large lot next to your home that states Super Store X coming your way. The public needs to be proactive, not reactive when it comes to landuse issues on a municipal, county and wider regional level.
What many do not realize is that land use issues affect more than our landscape. Study upon study has shown that residential development increases taxes. These residences bring children, cars and those seeking employment. Our schools are forced to expand their facilities to fit more students and hire more teachers to teach the students. Our roadways will have to be widened, expanded and maintained, increasing the costs of our sole form of transportation. Where will new residents work? Most of the jobs in this area are recreation/service related, often not paying enough to sustain a family. Smarter growth would bring business and industry, but what types of business or industry and where would they be best located?
What we ask of our future neighbors is what we should expect from ourselvesto understand that quality of life is accompanied by certain responsibilities. Be responsible enough to get involved in your community and ask the important questions of your county and municipal leadersbefore its too late.
[Michele Ulmer is the education coordinator for the Pike County Conservation District and has lived in the Wayne-Pike County area most of her life. She currently resides in Tafton with her husband, Karl, and their two children.]
This bi-weekly feature is part of a visioning initiative to engage citizens in a valley-wide discussion about the future of the Upper Delaware River Valley. If you are interested in contributing to this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845/252-7414.