Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Last Night's Block Grant CAC Meeting

I went into last night's meeting with such high hopes that we would start to make some headway in our discussions about possible neighborhood projects. I wish I could report that those hopes were met, but I don't believe that we made much progress (other folks who attended might, of course, disagree).

I believe that two sort of secondary issues sucked attention away from our purpose. One was a basic misunderstanding of the Civic Design Center's recommendations for Salemtown, based on the very short window of time that committee members and alternates were given to read the 23-page CDC report. The report was given to us at the beginning of last night's meeting, rather than assigned at last month's. As a result, committee members did not only not have time to ask substantial questions about the report, but there was remarkable confusion as to its status as a simple presentation of ideas; some were got the mistaken impression that Metro was going to make the recommended changes. Also, it didn't help that none of the original authors of the report were present; the young CDC representatives did the best they could with information to which they admittedly had little connection.

The second distraction was the shift in the discussion away from CDC recommendations and possible ideas for projects for Salemtown to complaints about our Council member, Metro alley maintenance, and other matters that could have more properly been addressed in a neighborhood association meeting. Our facilitator did not really keep us on task, I believe, and the turnout was again sparse, with very few who attended October's meeting present. I'm not saying that the issues raised were unimportant, but the CAC purposes don't necessarily allow it to address complaints beyond referring members to their neighborhood association.

I was prepared to discuss various ideas and to present those of neighbors who have either commented on Enclave or sent me e-mail, so you can see how disappointed I was that my hopes "died a committee death." They deserved a better fate. Let's hope for a better fate at the next CAC meeting: Tuesday, Dec. 13. Let's hope that MDHA is much more deliberate in the future at planning the meetings and coordinating the dissemination of important information. Let's hope that attendance goes up.

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