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Observations on sustainability and urban planning

But I also understand why people are drawn to the suburbs. I always hear the phrase: “it’s a good place to raise a family.” The suburbs have none of the crime, pollution and noise that often come with living in city, plus people have bigger yards and more privacy.

The way to resolve these conflicting interests is to make our outlying towns and villages more urban; not so spread out. I’m not saying that we should get rid of all cars, but the less we need to use them on a daily basis, the better. Not only are cars expensive to own and operate and bad for the environment, but they are pretty darn dangerous too.

For a while now our country has been developing a society where cars are king. Take a drive down West Genesee Street in Camillus or Erie Boulevard in East Syracuse for example. While there are buses that go to these areas, they are clearly built with people traveling by automobile in mind. These corridors full of big box stores, strip malls and chain restaurants are a token of the suburbs. I have no problem with chains stores (I eat at McDonalds and shop at Wal-Mart to be honest), but they should be arranged in a way that is more conducive to pedestrians.

The tightly arranged storefronts, well maintained sidewalks and close proximity of bigger stores (like Tops) in Skaneateles is much more attractive and functional than those spread out commercial strips.

Now here’s something that Skaneateles could improve on: if you are able to live within one mile of where you work or go to school, then you should just walk there. Walking has health benefits, is more social than driving and saves money. It always irked me back in Clarence how many students and parents would drive to school every day when there was free busing available or people could just walk or bike. From what I’ve seen, Skaneateles has this same problem.

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