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Planning, Subdivisions and Small Government

May 25th, 2012

A new school, Monarch Elementary, was built down the road from us over the past year, and will be opening this August. Some things are very strange about it.

It is supposed to be a “healthy learning” school.  But it is a brick building plunked down in the middle of a small field, with no playiground, no baseball diamond or soccer pitch.  It is surrounded by a two-lane road, but no sidewalk.  The road is meant to hold cars of parents waiting to pick up students at the end of the day.  So there is no way to actually walk around the school–without playing in the traffic.  There is a large building extendion, which I take to be a gymnasium, or auditorium of some kind. The healthy learing part of the school is, says the principal, activity “in the classroom”.  Don’t run around outside, kids, you  might hurt yourself.

No thought seems to have been given at all to how the kids will get to the school.  A number of presidents of HOA boards got together a few nights ago with some government types, and tried to figure out how to get sidewalks installed.  There are no sidewalks in the area. Walking would be very dangerous.; bussing and parents’ driving are the only options.  No planning thought seems to have gone into the transportation idea at all.

The two-lane road the school is on is already too busy with traffic.  It will be incredibly dangerous, once school opens and 600 parents are driving their kids to school in the morning, and picking them up again at night.
[DDET More…]

This is small government in actiion.  Or non-action.  No planning, until a school is absolutely needed.  Then funds only for the school.  No planning on how the kids can get to the school. No planning on improving the road that goes by the school.  No planning for the “healthy learning” environment.

This is a suburban area built up on old farmland.  The land used to be–from the Civil War to the mid-20th century, cotton country.  And cotton country in the South was cotton country ruined by improper agricultural methods: poor drainage, rampant erosion.  “Land rape,” turn-of-the-century SC governor Benjamin Tillman called it.  (Tillman was a farmers’ populist; through his efforts the state’s first agricultural school, Clemson College, was formed.) The land was left with an interweaving of ridges and ravines.

Onto this land mess were plopped down home subdivisions.  Each subdivision was limited to whatever area could be consolidated  to make a buildable site.  These areas were defined mostly by the gulleys and ravines that surround them. One after another these subdivisions were formed, without any thought of neighbors, without planning for traffic, parks or schools.  Each subdivision is a whole thing by itself, a “Ding-an-sich.”  There are no interconnections between the subdivisiions.  To get to your neighbor’s house in a subdivision across the ravine, you have to drive (no sidewalks, long distances) out the entrance gate onto a main road, travel at sometimes a mile to the entrance of the neighbor’s subdivision, the wend your way down neighborhood streets to your neighbor’s house.

So too you get a main drag of a shopping strip, lined with strip malls and franchise fast food joints, with the only way to get to one of those stores or restaurants being along that one main drag. No parallel streets you can take to avoid the main traffic–because no one thought to plan for them,.

Minimal planning, that’s the result of an exclusively ‘small government’ mentality. [/DDET]

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