21 Feb

Planning and Investment

I am sitting in my hotel room overlooking Delray Beach while my 3 year old sleeps after a  fantastic morning at the pool and lunch.

My family and I are enjoying our vacation in Delray tremendously.  There is a lot for the whole family to do. Delray has a terrific restaurant and night life scene. We have enjoyed several excellent meals.  We have listened to some nice music, shopped, enjoyed the beach and pool and have been struck how user friendly and well thought out the downtown and beach areas are for visitors and residents.

Here are some of the things that impress me about Delray:

1. There is a free shuttle that runs up and down Atlantic Avenue that moves people and helps avoid excessive traffic congestion.

2. The Delray Downtown Marketing Cooperative/Downtown Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce publish guides that are available everywhere with all restaurants, activities, happenings etc.

3. The town rents chairs and umbrellas at the beach and there are many life guards on duty.

4. There are beautiful playgrounds on the inter-coastal and shore area. Some are adjacent to town tennis courts, a recreation center and  open spaces. All have ample parking.

5. There are many benches and  decorative seats throughout the downtown and along the beach area that are perfect for people watching and enjoying the natural beauty or an ice cream!

I contrast these to my own town of Swampscott and I can’t help but thinking what a shame that despite efforts of the various town revitalization committees that have been convened over the years (one iteration of which I was part of until I felt that it wasn’t going to effectuate any change), Swampscott  just can’t seem to capitalize on its beautiful natural assets of coastline and New England charm to the fullest extent possible.

So why do some town succeed and others fail? It’s all about planning and investment.  It is the same thing I tell my clients. If you don’t have a vision of what you want to create and a plan for how to realize your vision, you will be stuck with the status quo and constantly be sub-par and reactive. Of course, a vision and plan are nice but investment of financial and human resources are also required. For a well-thought out and executed town or organization, it all really boils down to leadership who can think long-term and strategically.

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