Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You Cannot Win, if You Do Not Play

Growth and adaptation are keys to success of every successful organism, from a single cell tag-along to a government spanning a continent. It shouldn't be that surprising to us, living in Norwich 2010 that our city has changed a great deal in three hundred and fifty years. And that's the thing about change-it relentlessly keeps happening because it's a process and not a product, a journey and not a destination.

Long time residents will concede that this Norwich is not their grandparents' city and the youngest among us are looking forward to the day when their Norwich doesn't resemble the one in which we live now. While we are very proud of our municipally-owned Norwich Public Utilities, NPU, and the level of service and professionalism they provide to all of their customers, and the beneficiaries of the revenues they contribute to our general fund, few of us have any illusions about the scale and scope of public utilities across the state and the nation as this century rolls on.

Allowing for growth and adaptation are critical underpinnings of the three point three million dollar bond question on the November ballot for the construction of new gas mains and an expansion of the natural gas service that will allow NPU expansion, at no addition to residents' tax rates or with any rate increase to their gas customers.

NPU would survey a neighborhood first and expand gas service only where there is enough support by new customers to pay for it. Efficiencies of scale would be achieved by targeting those areas most densely populated, first, and working with individual business and residential customers on items such as heating system conversions that would include energy-efficiency improvements. The expanded service base would mean lower rates for all and as gas-sale revenues increased, so, too would utility’s contribution to the city’s fund. The added customers from the expansion of the NPU service area would cover the costs of the bonds.

In many respects, this bond is the most straight-forward and business-like of all three referendum questions. In looking at all three, the challenge we face is reinvigorating neighbors and residents who are discouraged experts. There are many here among us who can cite numerous examples 'what didn't work the last time' to talk themselves out of trying the next time.

Our refusal to let go of the anger and resentment created by past failures keeps us from grasping the promise of the opportunities before us now. Simply put: If we think we can't, we won't. If we don't even try, we'll fail. We'll miss every shot we never take. Between now and Election Day, look again at all the materials and read all the discussions (on both sides of the issues) available on each of the bonds and decide for yourself and your family what Norwich Next should look like. You cannot win if you do not play. Game on.
-bill kenny

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