SOLUTION OF THE MUNICIPAL EXPANSION PROBLEM GIVEN BY NOTED EXPERT ON CIVIC IMPROVEMENT
Select a committee of dynamite men who have the confidence of the community: let them name an energetic committee to carry out any plan decided upon by the original committee; secure the services of an expert to aid in the work determined upon; and have a survey made of existing’ conditions so as to determine the best course to pursue.
This was the solution of the municipal expansion problem presented to the people of Milltown, at the second meeting of the Milltown Chamber of Commerce held in the Borough Hall last Wednesday night, by Mr. Perry R. MacNeille, an expert in civic planning who has done much to aid the government in the housing proposition, and pioneer in city building. Mr. Mac Nellie was secured through The Sunday Times, which has taken a great interest in the question of civic development, not only with regard to New Brunswick but also with the view of presenting ideas and making suggestions that would aid other communities in making their municipalities better places to live in.
Following Mr. Mac Neille’s address the Milltown Chamber of Commerce, of which Mr. H. R. B. Meyers is president, voted to have a survey made in accordance with the plan suggested by the speaker. What he said in his very practical talk to the people of this borough will apply to any community and if followed out will prove beneficial to other municipalities.
Planning Too Much.
In discussing the question of “Municipal Expansion,” the title he gave to his talk, Mr. Mac Neille said it was a great mistake to mass up too great a quantity of things one would like to do and not do anything. The great danger of a meeting of this sort was that one got an inspiration to do thinks but this often wasted itself away before anything material resulted.
Mr. Mac Neille said he lived in a suburban community of New York where he went to rest and sleep. His business was in New York and it made no difference to him how long the town remained as dead as it was so long as it did hot become deader.
“But those of you who are in business here,” declared Mr. MacNeille, “are irrevocably committed to the program of civic expansion. Your success or failure, your happiness or misery, is tied up in this town. The majority of you cannot leave Milltown
He was sorry to say, however, that the storekeepers too often happened to be the blind ones in the matter of civic expansion, that the manufacturers, whose market was outside of the town, were not always the wideawake ones and the storekeepers were the laggards.
What Live Men Can Do.
As an illustration of the possibilities of a wide-awake Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Mac Neille referred to Pittsburg. There, upon the development of the steel industry at Gary, it was found business was decreasing and people were moving away. The Chamber of Commerce was a live and set to work to overcome this situation. They sent representatives to South America and Russia to get information First handed as to the possibilities of a market there for the products of Pittsburg. They prepared a book in encyclopedia form, giving an alphabetical list of all the industries of the city and what each manufactured. A copy of this book was placed in the hands of every American consul so that at a glance, upon inquiry being made of him as to where various materials could be obtained, he could furnish the address of the manufacturer in Pittsburg
They also sent $40,000 for a survey in relation to housing, parks, recreation and so on, with the result that Pittsburg is the prosperous city it is today. This showed what a live, energetic Chamber of commerce could do.
Studying the Problems.
The speaker then dwelt upon the necessity of the various problems being adequately studied in order to secure success. There was an opportune time for everything and sometimes it paid to put off the doing of a thing till tomorrow rather than to start it today. Conditions might be better at a later date and twice the energy then aroused than if the undertaking was started at once.
He also cautioned his hearers that if they waited to do a thing, however, until a time when it could be done perfectly it would never be done. There is nothing in this world perfect. The writer of a book had once, he said, withheld its publication for forty years in order that it might be perfect in every detail. It was concerning the life of a king and he had been unable to find out just what the king had done during two weeks of his career. After these many years he found the king had really done nothing at all of interest during that missing period. He had made a trip and stopped along at various points along the way. Yet the world lost the benefits of this book for 40 years in order to make it perfect. Their purpose should be not solely that of making money and of making goods but the rendering of a social service, the achievement of which would place them head and shoulders above all their neighbors.
Task For Milltown.
The task for Milltown, as he saw it was to select first a committee of dynamic men, men who had a vision, men who had the confidence of the community. They should be selected very carefully and should be men who, if they say it is wise for Milltown to do a certain thing the citizens will also say it is wise and support them.
This committee should select another committee of energetic, active men who, when a course is determined upon, will see to it that it is carried through. The services of an export would also be necessary, one who knows all the hitches likely to be encountered in the line of work determined upon and can guard against them so that everyone who works will know that he did something.
Importance of Survey.
Mr. MacNeille impressed upon the members of the Board the importance of making a survey so as to ascertain the economical, geographical and natural advantages, where the markets are, what new markets can be opened up and how old markets can be increased.
Sanitation was to be considered and plan necessary so as to prevent waste in the future, in some cities he said the streets grew wherever the cow wandered. In Altoona, he declared the brain of the engineer became weary and they laid the town out without any regard to future development with the result that some of the streets were so hilly that fire engines could not get up them. At Three Rivers streets were now being closed, because they were built in the wrong place, and new streets being laid to accommodate factories. All because of a lack of plan in the beginning.
A town also needed recreation with its playgrounds. It also needed recuperation. One enjoys a period of rest when he walks through beautiful streets, said Mr. Mac Neille, but he doesn’t get any rest when he walks through ashes.
Estimating The Cost.
Just as the dressmaker, before starting to make a dress, gets a pattern to go by and estimates the cost so as to be sure her pocketbook will meet the needs, or an architect draws up a plan based upon a certain amount to be spent, so a city not only; makes a plan but prepares a budget so as to know where the money is to come from when needed.
“But money alone won’t build your city,” continued the speaker. Goodwill and good spirit are needed also. The town needs the spirit of all its citizens behind it. The wonderful accomplishments of America during the war was due to the energies of all being centered in winning the war. It is just so with a town. All minds must be centered upon the things to be accomplished to make them a success.”
Town To Decide.
Following his talk Mr. Mac Neille answered questions put to him by those in the audience. In reply to one questioner, he said it was up to the people of the town to decide upon what they wanted. They could tell in a general way what appealed to them, what they most missed. From all the suggestions made that favored by the majority should be chosen first and if the committee found it desirable and sanctioned it that made its success assured.
Mac Neille met a number of the residents of Milltown during his short stay there and was much interested in the town and its success. He found the people anxious to do whatever they could to develop the town. Everywhere there was a spirit needed to back up municipal development. That the townspeople appreciated his visit was shown by a standing vote of thanks given him at the Chamber of Commerce meeting.