Regionalization yes, but not for these tasks

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The Bennington Banner editorial, April 5, "This Idea Needs Work," is right on target. To be effective, i.e., getting beyond dreams to actualities, regional planning and industrial development need to be rooted in real-life live-in, spend-in, work-in communities, as constituted in Bennington, Manchester, and the other "places" of Bennington County.

To gut or eliminate this area's regional planning and industrial groups, BCRC and BCIC, in favor of a single wider-area group, say all of Bennington and Rutland counties, would dilute the connections between plans and goals and what is actually likely to happen.

It's fine to contemplate large regional development centers. They have a place, but not at the expense of the smaller regional centers already established and doing effective jobs.

As to the connection between plans/goals and realities, without which planning is only dreaming, a lively, hands-on relationship is needed between planning/promoting groups and the what-is-really-happening world. It would be a great mistake as to this essential connection, particularly in Bennington County, to dilute it by over-widening the focus of planning and development.

There is doubtless valid need for broader regional service centers. But they should be set up to complement, not replace, what is now done in planning and development at the municipal and county-levels. If the communities of Bennington County, constituted municipally as towns and villages, are to be leaders of development, as I believe they should, support should continue to be regionally available as it now is through the regional planning and industrial commissions.

Getting the optimum balance between how communities develop and the resources available for steering and supporting development is a key to life and opportunity in grass-roots communities. Regionalization is great, but at a geographic scale congruent with real-life cities, towns, and villages.

Per the Banner editorial, setting up regional super-centers may well make sense. But not at the expense of eviscerating long-established groups, locally the Bennington County Regional Commission and the Bennington County Industrial Commission.

Bob Matteson is a former town manager in Bennington.

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