There’s an electricity in the air — or at least there should be. After three years’ worth of planning, community meetings, gatherings of local leaders, and what’s safely assumed to have been a lot of ink being put to a lot of paper, the announcement of the conclusion of Destination Erie has been met with the declaration that a new mission has begun.
Arguing over whether Destination Erie ended with a bang or a whimper isn’t what we Erieities, from downtown denizens to rural residents, should be preoccupied with. Instead of rummaging through the ashes, smearing any charred remains; we should be studying the phoenix rising: Emerge 2040.
Destination Erie hasn’t been without criticism. In these very pages, we’ve written that “Erie has a penchant for planning its next plan to study a plan on how to plan future plans.” But rather than succumbing to the naysayers to write off Destination Erie as a dust-collector primed to be bemoaned a decade later as something we failed to apply action to, we — the collective those of us who feel like we have a stake in shaping Erie’s future — must embrace the opportunity to begin laying a new foundation for the Erie to come in two-and-a-half decades.
That is, we can’t afford to throw in the towel before the bout even begins.
And the bell — as you’ll read in Dan Schank’s coverage in this issue — has been rung.
Destination Erie was a plan, designed to deliver the community what it promised, built on three years of study and analysis. What it wasn’t was something designed to immediately solve all our problems with the $1.8 million HUD grant that sustained it. That money wasn’t to pave roads, repair infrastructure, or create new jobs; it was to be used to give us what now lies in front of us: The key to the map that is the future of Erie County.
But just as we can’t afford to kowtow to knee jerk opposition, we can’t afford to all simply grab our Don’t Give Up the Ship pompoms and run to the sideline, awaiting some victory with no one left to take to the playing field. That is, we need community leaders — both in the public and private sectors — to be willing to examine the playbook and devise a game plan and strategy. We need — and we’ve called for this before — people willing to stretch out their necks and take risks that are calculated and informed — especially now that we find ourselves armed with pertinent information about our city, our county, and our region.
In his column in this issue, Contributing Editor Jim Wertz writes about how elected leaders and those seeking offices more often than not address problems but fail to take the risk of offering up solutions. Now that we have a picture three years in the making, encapsulating where we’ve been and what we are, it’s time to decide who, how, and why we move forward. Otherwise, we might just all be left whimpering, running our fingers through the ashes of what could’ve been, whispering names like John Nolen and Maurice Rotival like dirty little secrets.