I just returned from a week in downtown Chicago - a nice contrast to my home setting here in Oshkosh. Its always nice to see other communities - even the great ones - and see some other ideas for how a community could be. Three things stood out in particular - a nice public river walk, lots of outdoor seating at downtown restaurants on the wide sidewalk areas, and the superior quality of municipal "additions" including ornate park and walkway railings, beautiful plantings in large and numerous outdoor pots, and frequent and attractive garbage containers (as attractive as they can be I guess). The free Art Institute Thursdays was also a nice perk - I suspect occasional free days would greatly expand the usage of the Oshkosh museum and Paine as well.
Anyway, upon my return, it appears as though we've finally received those long-awaited recycling bins. They are nice. Larger than I thought, and more sturdy than I anticipated. This is a great step towards responsible waste management and environmental stewardship for the city/county. Well done.
And as the bins were coming, we received notice that Community Development Director Jackson Kinney is leaving. According to the ONW, "Kinney’s retirement does not become effective until Jan. 4, but a combination of vacation days and administrative leave granted as part of his severance agreement made Friday his last day on the job". The article cites city manager Mark Rohloff as stating that Kinney's departure "will give us an opportunity to make a fresh start". This would imply then that an outside search will occur for a new director, and the following are hopefully some of the key provisions of what a fresh director of development will bring:
- Mixed income development - high quality, attractive facilities utilizing a mix of private funding and community development dollars to develop housing facilities that help reduce the consolidation of wealth and/or poverty into distinct areas of our community. This is something happening in cities throughout the country with great success.
- Walkable / bike-able communities - this is too obvious to say much more
- Smart development (for example, working to not have Lowes, Menards, and Fleetfarm all within a 1 block area)
- Following what the residents of Oshkosh want - as identified in the Vision Oshkosh report and other important public input tools utilized by the city
- Implementation of strict requirements (that are successfully implemented by communities across the country) for new development, including health requirements (example lead abatement requirements), high energy efficiency standards (for example, LEED certification on developments that utilize city funding), and other similar provisions that utilize modern technology and proven principles for successful development.