At the Wayne County Master Plan kick-off meeting on February 10th at the Newark High School, which was attended by about 75 county residents, 24 people submitted surveys and written comments. These citizens listed concerns, ideas, and goals for enhancing their own neighborhoods and communities. They also listed opportunities and constraints for improving economic development, including tourism and agricultural development, enhancement of social and natural resources, and residential development.
Most of the citizens at the meeting favor comprehensive land use planning, and one person expressed a hope that County and town planning be coordinated.
A desire for more jobs for increased protection of the environment topped the list of concerns. One respondent highlighted the goal of creating a County where people can both work and live. At the kick-off meeting the County's Master Plan Consultant, Cynthia Hill, stressed that environmental conservation and economic development may seem contradictory, but they are, in fact, complementary. A safe, clean, and visually attractive environment attracts quality businesses, which, in turn, create opportunities for employment. The consultant warned, however, that job growth leads to increased demand for housing, which almost always lead to increased school tax burden on long-term residents.
The environmental issues mentioned in survey responses include the pollution of ground water with farm chemicals. Concern for water resource protection and pollution abatement ranked high, with particular attention on the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, and Sodus Bay. Citizens voiced a need for greater public access to public water bodies, and some of them wanted increased opportunities for boating, fishing and hiking.
Ideas abound for improving transportation including rail and bus service, sidewalks and bike paths. The congestion on Route 31 is leading some people to promote an additional east-west expressway north of the thruway. Other people want to see better north-south linkages in the road network. Transportation is seen as key to improving tourism, housing and economic growth.
Citizens voiced a desire to foster agricultural preservation and maintenance of the rural character of the County, including ushering in a new generation of farmers and promoting the fruit, equine,
sheep, fruit, vegetable and dairy industries. While farming remains highly competitive internationally, ideas for surviving locally include tax abatement, establishing an equine center, creating additional cooperative extension offices, promoting local agribusiness with the hope of improving farm profits, and adding more local farm markets.
Participants focused attention on cultural and historic resources, including Wayne County's historic hamlets, villages and towns. People want to promote village, neighborhood, and town identification and the revitalization, rehabilitation, restoration and preservation of cultural and historic resources. While some of Wayne County's Main Streets are economically viable, many need additional business investment.
These citizen-planners look to tourism for increasing jobs and the quality of life. Survey respondents noted potential synergies between tourism and park development and the promotion of special
places such as the Erie Canal, Lake Ontario, Sodus Bay, and Metz Pond, and Zurich Bog. One person suggested inter-municipal collaboration in promoting tourism and the need for more lodging.
The concerns for youth, aging, disenfranchised citizens, telecommunications, safety and health were also represented in survey responses. One citizen submitted unofficial notes from Arcadia's master plan meetings. This Arcadia report includes sections on providing for young families and senior citizens, both of whom may need affordable housing, daycare, and healthcare, local shopping and special recreational facilities.
Kick-off participants promoted cooperation, trust, positive attitude and a belief that with proper education the public will generate new and fruitful ideas. One forward-looking citizen pointed out
that clean energy such as the use of hydrogen fuels and wind energy, is economically and technologically viable in Wayne County. The complete survey results are available upon request.