Why is “Planning” a Dirty Word?

For those watching, “21” now seems to be generating as much nervousness as “666”, from the world-wide cabal associated with Agenda 21, to the purported local attempt to enslave Anchorage through the initial Title 21 rewrite. It seems that the crypto-conspiracists see “planning” as anathema to civil liberty. While those less hysterical may simply see the hands of the likes of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers at work (is there something about the letter “K”…..)  the unfortunate truth is that, as a society, we often produce lousy planning.

An old saw, likely promoted by those who have been recently offered their freedom from employment, advises, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It is the small stuff, however, that ensures your that Mars probe doesn’t crash into the planetary surface, and the same applies to designing the urban environment of Anchorage’s future.  Take the example of the newly redone bicycle trail that passes by the corner of Bragaw and Northern Lights Boulevard (you’ll find me at the fancy green railing on the south side of the street.) But watch your step!   You probably don’t want the water pouring across the trail from the black, brackish pools of the fen to the south soaking your new kicks.

This piece of trail,  the most important bike path in the part of Anchorage most heavily used by bicycles, connecting Muldoon to downtown,  was closed for two years during construction of an extension, that while very nice, did not need to close down this critical thoroughfare.  A year after the trail opened again, the cracks are already appearing and here, at the corner of Bragaw and Northern Lights, you’ll notice a length of some 30 feet of trail covered with run-off making its way to the street across the trail (and yes,  it IS treacherous in the Spring and Fall when it frosts and freezes.) From here to Nunaka Park this sight is all too common, and will eventually result in expensive repair, or worse, a decaying infrastructure. Why?  Because someone at the MOA Planning Department didn’t sweat the small stuff.

If the Municipal planners can’t manage a bike trail that has proper drainage and doesn’t turn into crumbs in 2 years, can we depend on them to do much else? Conspiracy? No. Just sloppy, negligent work. Do you want the person who is responsible for the water running over the bike trail also responsible for planning the storm sewer next to your home?  I thought not.

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