By: Delray Newspaper staff
Cities get in trouble when they lack a unifying citizen driven vision.
If you want to boil down Delray’s success over the years it comes down to three factors:
• A police department that partnered with the community to make Delray safe for investment.
• Citizen visioning in which all interested stakeholders came together to share their dreams and aspirations for their city.
• Solid execution and implementation of the vision.
That’s it, folks.
Sure there are lots of subplots, nuance and details to consider but those are the three big factors. Your city has to be safe, you have to have a vision and you have to work hard to bring the vision to life.
It worked for Delray Beach.
Recently, the staff of Delray Newspaper has had a chance to talk with key players who were here in the 70s and 80s (some of our team dates to the 80s as well) and they will tell you that back then our city was “circling the drain” as one prominent business leader put it.
Crime, drugs, violence, vacancy, decline and blight were the order of the day.
Community policing, visioning and relentless focus on implementation changed our city.
It’s been a remarkable success story. That doesn’t mean that all is perfect and that every decision was right. It also doesn’t mean that every problem was solved.
Today, as back then, our schools need help.
We are still bedeviled by crime and violence, we still struggle with issues relating to race and of course substance abuse remains a plague and a very human crisis. People are dying, literally on our streets.
There’s more to do; a whole lot more to do. That’s the beauty of cities.
Today we are faced with new challenges and some lingering ones. We also have new opportunities many made possible due to the success we have experienced since the first group of residents and city officials got together and began visioning in 1984. Those visions were updated in 1989 and 2001, one effort building on the successes of the other.
But today, we are without a vision despite an effort in 2012-13 that seems to have been lost. A recent search for that effort on the city’s website revealed a dead link: an ironic result indeed.
In the absence of a unifying vision created by stakeholders–residents, business owners, property owners, young people, new and long time residents, people involved in the arts, non profits, schools, volunteers Etc.,—politics and personal agendas take over. Nature and cities hate vacuums. They get filled, often times with personal agendas that leave a whole lot of people feeling left out and abandoned.
Wouldn’t it make sense to fill it with a vision and get back to work?
A new inclusive visioning effort would be just the tonic right now; a needed tonic for a community fatigued by a divided commission.
Delray is brimming with talent and ideas waiting to be shared and unleashed. Good leadership would recognize that energy and put it to work to create an even better community for everyone.
By: Delray Newspaper staff