County advised to value its assets
David Warm thinks that one of the best things Leavenworth County has going for it is its landscape.
"I think you have the opportunity before your growth gets out in front of you to map those natural assets," said Warm, executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council. Warm spoke Thursday at the 20th annual meeting of Leavenworth Area Development Corporation.
"Celebrate those assets before you destroy them," Warm said. "As your growth here just begins to ignite, get out in front of it and conserve what is worth conserving."
Since 1970, the county's population has grown from 53,000 to close to 70,000. The growth is expected to continue, Warm said.
"In this decade in this county, the question isn't whether you will grow," Warm said. "It's how well you will grow."
The Mid-America Regional Council was formed 30 years ago with the goal of building a strong regional community. The council serves 14 cities and eight counties, including Leavenworth County, in Kansas and Missouri.
In 1970, 60 percent of the jobs in the Kansas City area were in the urban core. That figure has now reversed, reflecting changing economic trends.
"Most of the wealth, the jobs, are now on the perimeter of our region," Warm said.
Planning for traffic is important, Warm said, outlining the importance of maintaining and managing road systems currently in place, looking at ways to increase car pools and other road-saving options, enhancing public transit systems, such as by bringing a bus system to Leavenworth, planning for freight movement by truck and railroad, and studying metropolitan growth patterns.
But planning for traffic isn't the only issue, Warm said. He said it's just as important that officials plan to create communities.
"We need to make inherently attractive and livable places," Warm said.
Now is the time for Leavenworth County to decide how it wants to grow.
"We need to shift from subdividing the county to creating communities," Warm said. "I think you have an opportunity now before your growth constrains your options."
Also at the meeting, LAD President Dan Gutshall presented plaques to Don Navinsky, chairman of the Leavenworth County Com-mission, and to Jon Goodman, assistant manager for the city of Leavenworth, in recognition of the county's and city's 20 years of continuous support of LAD.