|Planning for smart growth|
|Friday, May 18, 2012|
My family first moved to what is now known as Sumner County more than two centuries ago, before Tennessee was admitted into the Union in the late 18th century. Many of things that made the Upper Cumberland a great place to live back then are still with us today. We are blessed with an expanse of natural resources, a strong workforce, and a truly vibrant community, all which make Gallatin a great place to live and work. I’m sure many of you would agree that Sumner County is one of the best places in the country to call our home.
According to the most recent Census data, I’m not the only one that feels this way. Gallatin is growing at a rapid pace and now has more than 30,000 residents. The Metropolitan Planning Organization projects that Sumner County will add nearly 100,000 residents in the next 25 years. This growth will provide many opportunities but it also poses many challenges as well.
If you have driven to Nashville during rush hour, than you are certainly familiar with at least one of the challenges I’m talking about. Believe it or not, Middle Tennessee was recently shown to have one of the worst commutes in our nation, costing middle Tennessee more than $426 million dollars in wasted fuel and lost productivity on an annual basis. It’s not just about transportation; it’s planning for quality growth well into the future.
It’s not all bad news. Sumner County was recently named one of the healthiest places in the state of Tennessee. This is certainly not by accident; our elected officials and municipal staff certainly deserve a lot of credit. The Gallatin Greenway, Downtime Revitalization, and forward demonstrate the forward-thinking leadership we need.
If you care about quality growth issues, I’d like to invite you to an event on May 23 co-hosted by The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and Cumberland Region Tomorrow with some of the top leaders and thinkers in regional quality growth development. The POWER OF TEN Regional Summit (10power.org) will continue the dialog with public and private leaders about what our region is doing to ensure we continue to maintain our high quality of life and economic vitality.
Let me be clear about something, I believe that growth is good. But I also know that if we don’t take care of what makes Middle Tennessee special, we could easily lose many of things that have made our area a great place to live generation after generation.
I’ll leave you with one of the great many lessons that my father taught me: Let’s think twice and act once. I’m confident that together we can continue to apply this truism to planning and quality growth to help make Sumner County and Gallatin the same great place in the future as it has been in the past.
By Clay Haynes