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Our view: Finding that middle ground

It's a chicken-egg predicament that we see all the time:

A government agency decides to undertake a project, presents the public with draft plans, target dates and estimated costs, and asks for feedback. The public feels blindsided and questions how, and why, such plans could be drawn up without any prior input from the community.

Conversely, when a concept is put to the community prior to the drafting process, the response is, more often than not, "How are we supposed to offer useful input when we have no details about the project?"

Most recently, we've seen it in Camillus, where the Onondaga County DOT presented preliminary plans to repave much of West Genesee Street and reduce traffic flow from four to three lanes.

Earlier this spring, we heard similar complaints regarding the county legislature's method of redrawing legislative lines for redistricting, the public hearing for which was held less than 48 hours before the legislature was to vote on the proposal, which passed 12-7 on April 15.

The paradox puts government in a tough spot, for sure. And we would not expect all decision making to be postponed until each member of each community was given the opportunity to advise project leaders on their plans.

But there has to be a middle ground here, and we are concerned with how often we don't see agencies taking multi-pronged approach that actively encourages and welcomes feedback from the public throughout all steps of a project.

Why didn't the DOT ask residents to submit their concerns at the start of the project, so they could be taken into account when plans were drawn?

Why weren't the fire and police departments in Camillus asked for input on the project before the public hearing?

Why was the public hearing held only six business days before the deadline for public input?

As usual, the burden lies on residents to seek out public projects and be mindful of deadlines that cut off public input.

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