Taking steps toward a more informed public

The village and the county held an open house on the Millerton Pedestrian Plan Project on Thursday, Aug. 3, at the NorthEast-Millerton Library Annex. In doing so, not only did the village share the results of its work with the Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development, but both village and county accomplished something that is critical to local governing: community outreach.

So often, our towns and villages are criticized for not informing the public of their intentions, of the work they’re conducting and of their goals and aspirations.

And we get that. It often happens that government is so focused on an end goal that constituents are left out of the loop. That’s a problem, because people deserve to know what their local leaders are doing and how their tax dollars are being spent.

Yet we also acknowledge it  can be difficult for governments to regularly share results as they trudge through their day-to-day work. 

It’s no wonder there can sometimes be a disconnect. But we’re encouraged by events like the open house held last week, which make important strides in forging relationships between those who govern and those being governed.

The meet-and-greet was a good first step toward creating a successful pedestrian plan for Millerton. Those who stopped by the Annex were encouraged to write down their suggestions on sticky notes and adhere them to maps propped up on easels and plans laid out on tables.

They were also encouraged, of course, to talk to county planners there for that very purpose.

From all appearances, residents did exactly that. The Annex was abuzz with multiple conversations throughout the evening — people mingled, people chatted and people learned. They made suggestions, registered complaints and tried to problem solve. 

The most gratifying component of the evening was that residents were there to take an active role in their community’s welfare. How many times have we heard complaints that no one makes an effort any more? Well, here’s evidence to the contrary.

We laud the village and the county for providing that platform. We should note, some folks leaving the Annex could be heard complaining that they didn’t get a whole heck of a lot out of the meeting. They said the maps and plans laid out were too vague, the presentation too brief. But, those there — from the Village Board, the village Pedestrian Plan Task Force and county planning — should be commended for making the effort.  We hope the details some felt were lacking will soon follow.

The gathering could, by all accounts, be deemed successful, because it helped create a dialogue between the village and the county on a plan vital to Millerton’s future — which will undoubtedly lead to a more informed public. And, we firmly believe, a well-informed public is a wonderful thing.