Sure, we all snicker a little when candidates explain that government is all about the people, but the most impactful form of government is truly at the municipal level. Private residents can join committees and boards and be involved in local government to the extent they want.
But the situation with the intersection of 161st Street and Spring Mill Road is interesting.
Even those who didn’t live in the city a decade ago know about the hostile situation with the Kroger development. Some residents are still fuming about what happened and others have embraced that development is coming whether they like it or not.
The unique aspect of the highly sought-after intersection land is the approach city leaders and residents are taking. While all parties involved know that not everyone will be on board with a plan for the area, surrounding neighborhood residents are having a direct say in what will impact them – sometimes literally – in their backyard.
Jeannine Fortier, a resident of Enclave at Maple Knoll, said the group faces a rare situation and feels highly encouraged that the city government is providing it with the opportunity and resources to create a plan.
“It’s very humbling. I had no idea so much had to go into it,” she said. “We have to fulfill our civic duty. It gives us great ownership of what may happen in our own neighborhood – a say-so. This really is our government.”
Mulberry Farms HOA President Mark Christoffersen said he hopes the success of this “pilot program” starts a new standard for the City of Westfield with future development.
“It’s been an eye-opening and pleasant process to be part of this. It shows the dedication of city leaders. They are listening to residents,” he said.