Let's Listen to each other and get this right
As a community, Concord deeply needs what developing the naval weapons station has to offer, most especially affordable housing. Sustainable design and livability are also crucial, which means important new thinking should be incorporated into any development that occurs.
But first and foremost, no development should occur without incorporating these key principles
- The needs of current and future residents should come first.
- The vast majority of new housing should be affordable.
- Policymakers should listen to current residents.
- The benefits of development should accrue primarily to Concord and the community.
A few examples:
First, traffic mitigation and transit improvements need to be measured, documented, and addressed before thousands of new homes are built. Sustainability and livability need to be baked in by design. The development should work for all Concord residents, not the other way around.
Second, the labor which builds the project should be able to afford to live there. That means a good Project Labor Agreement upfront and a majority of housing units that are affordable. Developers should be chosen who can support this approach, rather than place their profits ahead of people and ahead of permanent jobs paying living wages.
Third, an all-too-frequent hallmark of this long process has been a lack of respect - of listening - to Concord residents. Countless hours have been spent defining a balanced set of needs and desires. And informed residents have publicly opined on everything from how to comfortably integrate new housing, to the clear unsuitability of some developer candidates. To no avail. The failure to listen is a failure of leadership, not a failure of the community. We can, and should, do better.
Finally, given the community benefits that a thoughtful development can provide, it is clear that the development process has taken too long. Schools, workforce housing, transportation, homelessness solutions, and healthy living space are all dividends this project can pay to Concord and the region. Once again, the choices made by leadership have delayed these benefits rather than make them real.
Mistakes have been made. Primarily in the choice of potential development partners where political influence seems to take precedence over the long-term interests of Concord and its residents, but also in terms of transparency and accountability. But “too long” is not a reason to do this wrong.
Let’s listen to each other, carefully use our time, and do it right.
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