A Good Five-Year Plan
“I think ambition is good. I think overreaching is good. I think giving people a vision of government that’s more than Social Security checks and debt reduction is good. I think government should be optimistic.”
Sam Seaborn, The West Wing, “100,000 Airplanes”
That quote kept rattling around in my mind as I spent Friday and Saturday working with a committee charged with developing the Fairfield Library’s next five year plan. Unlike other parts of town, the Library has a series of these plans and as one ends, the next begins and such action led to the renovation of the main branch. When it opened three years ago, everyone saw the money was well spent.
With a state grant, the Library hired Washington-based consultants to come and study the town. They conducted one-on-one interviews and focus groups in addition to phone and in-person surveys. From that, a group of library officials and other members of town were invited to form the committee. They must have liked my answers because I was asked to join in the fun.
We spent Friday talking about the town and its current makeup. Then we were placed into four groups and asked to blue sky our vision of where the town would be in 10-15 years. Without budget restrictions, we were asked to dream big thinking about children, teens, adults, seniors, long-time residents and newcomers, etc. Then, each group reported back. From there we were asked to hone the list down to the 7 major needs of the town going forward. Once that list was assembled, we determined what sort of role, if any, the Library could play. When we reconvene, we’ll work through the list and help craft the five year plan.
The survey had some interesting tidbits and continued study will reveal more, no doubt. While its heavily used for books, DVD and CD circulation has been growing so an eye towards technology will be vital. Same with the computer room. Also, we have a fair percentage of people from out of the town using the facility so its rep must be a good one.
Getting to know the Library staff has been a pleasure in addition to chatting with other neighbors who I am serving with. Next time we’ll be mixed up again which means more people to learn about. Always a good thing and all the better since the town and Library benefits.
It’s been an interesting exercise and one I’ve begun to urge our First Selectman to consider. A vision for the future, especially for a town like ours, is useful so we can work towards making as many of those goals a reality. Another term for this would be “smart growth” and while we’ve been cautious with big construction projects after completing substantial school building, our needs continue to evolve.