Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Easter Bunny, Unicorns and 27% Growth

Fred has done the grunt work to look at rolling decades of growth in Evansville. As the Smart Growth Plan was being formulated surveys were taken which cited a 27% growth rate between 1990 and 2000 and asked for citizens opinions about an accelerating growth level. Upwards of 9 in 10 citizens desired a growth rate at or below that number as Evansville moves forward.

As it turns out, the 27% rate was a MacGuffin, not an intentional one, to be sure, but a number that had less relevance than we all thought. Actual growth rates for Evansville over the 5 rolling decades since 2000 are copied blatantly from Fred.

Decade ; Growth per decade.

1990-2000 ; 27.3%
1991- 2001 ; 28.6
1992-2002 ; 31.3
1993-2003 ; 31.3
1994-2004 ; 30.5
1995-2005 ; 33.6
1996-2006 ; 38.9

As you can see growth has superheated beyond that 27% rate over the last five years. This is something that many of us felt but never recognized. Market forces may drive the 2006 stand-alone numbers down but the decade will show growth in excess of 30% in 2007 nonetheless.

What does all of this mean?
  • The School Board is going to need help sooner rather than later.
  • Many of the houses built here in the last 5 years are smaller and simpler than what can be expected to pay for increased service demands by an average family. (In fairness, my house is one of those. However my household probably has a lower level of city service demand than some.)
  • Evansville needs to get a forecasting model up and running so that the Planning Commission can see the effects of any proposed residential development down to the block level if not the single home level. There has to be a plug-and-chug model out there somewhere that we can use.
  • These numbers validate the Smart Growth process in Evansville. We needed a plan. We worked hard to construct a plan. We need to be diligent in making sure our plan serves the City as we go forward.
  • The Council made a sound decision to not amend the plan to change the designation of the Maas property. The decisions of the past have set us up with challenges that we had not foreseen. That amendment would have made the problem worse rather than better.
  • Evansville needs to successfully manage TID6 and TID7. Those Mixed-use and Industrial areas will smooth our growth pains.
  • We cannot for a moment take our eyes off of the viable industry we have here. Main Street is taking a lot of attention and energy right now in order to make the renovations as painless as possible. The City must not lose sight of the valuable employers we have in place. Baker, Stoughton Trailers, VP and Landmark along with the host of smaller businesses are just as much of a municipal resource as sweet water and public electricity. They should be nurtured in the same way.

What can we do? Stay involved. Stay informed. Volunteer. Vote. You don't have to wonder what is happening if you are involved in making things happen. I know that several of my local readers are already doing just that. If I can get two more of you involved in some small way I'll feel better.

I'll see you at the meeting.

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