Thursday, September 18, 2008

A good site selection by the army.

News and Commentary.

The army, taking a page from the Middletown Eye, has established a community newsblog. In addition to being a repository of information (via army postings), it is a major mechanism for Middletown community members to provide feedback to the army (via our comments). All comments posted on the blog will automatically go in the report submitted by the Corps to the Army Reserve around October 1st. Project Manager Diane McCartin explained to me this morning that she deliberately turned to a blog hosting service external to the army's domain, because everything posted on the army's internal servers requires extensive moderating and filtering to remove threatening language and to ensure that there are no security risks. Ms. McCartin did not want to filter postings or emails, and she wanted to ensure complete transparency, to assure residents that their comments would be included. This idea, using an external blog hosting server, is not something that has been done before in the Louisville District of the Corps of Engineers.

The comments section is divided into 5 parts, one for each of the possible sites, and one for general comments (clicking on each of the following will take you right to that comment section):
Ms. McCartin emphasized to me that all comments are welcomed, both positive and negative. She suggested that negative comments about Boardman Lane would not be as helpful to the process as positive comments about other sites, saying, "I've heard lots of comments about Boardman Lane. I'm a pretty intuitive person, and I get it that Boardman is not y'all's favorite site." Ms. McCartin acknowledged that there is a danger that unfiltered blog postings might have problems of their own, but she feels that transparency is too important to sacrifice.

The army has finally done something right in the area of site selection. This new website is elegant, intuitive, and transparent, it is an outstanding means for gathering and organizing community input. The Army should take full advantage of this site and greatly expand the information available. They have given themselves an opportunity to show with their actions the openness of the process. On this site should be maps of each parcel, information about environmental, engineering, traffic, etc issues relating to each site, and schematics of how the army would place its buildings. The army should post here all other information that residents have asked for, including information that they have previously denied to us. The links should be expanded, there is a link to
the City's Army information clearinghouse, but they should also link to other Middletown websites that have featured information (the WRA website, and hey Ms. McCartin, how about a nod to THE MIDDLETOWN EYE?).

The open nature of the blog postings has the very important ancillary benefit that Middletown's citizens can learn from and respond to what others in the community are thinking. It will not bring us to the level of democracy and discussion enjoyed by those in Vermont who attend the famous "town meetings", but it can bring us much closer than Middletown has been in a very long time. If the blog postings get out of hand, the Army should ask individuals trusted by the community to apply a minimal filter. All comments should be accessible to anybody who wants to read them, but the on-topic comments should not be made irrelevant by being buried in a swamp of off-topic comments.

Our elected officials should use this forum with us, to make clear their opinions on each of the 4 sites and on the entire site selection process in general. The army has given our Mayor, our Common Council members, and our state and federal elected officials an opportunity for them to show their constituents that they are engaged in the issue of the Military Reserve Center in Middletown. All should take advantage.


Anonymous said...

An Old Dog CAN Learn New Tricks.

Very user friendly and not bad looking, either. Best site so far, by a long shot. Now, the Eye will be relieved of Army-Base overkill and citizens can excoriate each other and the ACOE at will. We'll see who needs a training facility. It is hard to get your dander up under such humane treatment, but beware of the dogs. The muzzles are off!

Build a Dog Park into the Army Base plans and many Middletown citizens will sit up and beg for this facility.

Jasper Cane

Anonymous said...

"She suggested that negative comments about Boardman Lane would not be as helpful to the process as positive comments about other sites, saying, "I've heard lots of comments about Boardman Lane. I'm a pretty intuitive person, and I get it that Boardman is not y'all's favorite site." Ms. McCartin"

All due respect to Ms. McCartin the decision is not hers. The community should flood the blog with negative, well thought out and documented comments about Boardman/Ken Dooley and Bysiwiecz. These comments will be incorporated into the NEPA document and it is essential that this document reflect the negative impacts on the communities fiscal and human health and the environment.

Bill Warner

joseph getter said...

dear fishmuscle and Eye: the link you gave to the general comments on the Army blog doesn't go to the correct place. it should be:

also, the font size of your post is smaller than everything else on the Eye, and is so small it's hard to read.

thanks for your work here and elsewhere on this important issue.

Anonymous said...

I would encourage people to add comments about the Boardman/Kenneth Dooley proposal which McCartin claims eliminates the impact on residential neighborhoods. This is simply not true. We need to point out that Kenneth Dooley leads into Timber Ridge / Hawk's Nest which is a residential neighborhood of more than 100 families.

Paula Lawson

madamnirvana said...

It would be helpful if the Middletown Press were more un bias in their choice of article topics regarding the army site- yesterday featured a story about an 88 acre donkey farm on Boardman Lane. I do know past article spoke of farms in Maromas, but not in great detail. I could be mistaken, correct me if I am, about past coverage of other sites; however, the article scarcely mentioned what other sites had been considered -nor did it sufficiently summarize the battle so far. It was basically a 'save the animals' plea. If a person read this for the first time, he or she would have no idea about the negative impacts on other sites also considered.

Again, this is a Middletown issue- not a neighborhood vs neighborhood issue which the Middletown Press is only adding to.