In this week's article “The Starland Village Files: Part 2” it was suggested that my support for the Starland Village project is somehow motivated by a constellation of board relationships between the Thomas Square Neighborhood Association (TSNA), the Creative Coast, and the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA).
First, some clarifications: The Starland Village is to be built in the Thomas Square Neighborhood, not the Victorian Neighborhood as stated in the article.
Additionally, the Creative Coast is not a “project of SEDA,” we are a nonprofit organization that receives partial funding from them to grow entrepreneurship in Savannah.
Second, if we’re to start suggesting collusion based on who’s on each others boards then we’re in for a bumpy time. Our city, as pointed out by Connect Editor (and article author) Jim Morekis several times a year, is much smaller than it thinks it is. I’ve come to understand this first hand. It doesn’t take long to realized that everybody knows everybody.
If you sit on one board of directors in Savannah, the chances are fairly high that you sit on another, or maybe two or more.
As the article points out I am the President of the Thomas Square Neighborhood and the Board Chair of the Creative Coast. I also sit on the boards for Visit Savannah and Chatham Area Transit.
I take these positions seriously and I read the minutes and the reports, show up and listen, meet with people, and finally form beliefs that I think are best for our community. I stand behind what I say, and I take the criticisms that come with having an opinion. It’s not always an easy time (believe me…) and no decision is taken lightly.
But I love doing this work. I really do. I have the honor of volunteering my time with other committed, intelligent, imaginative people, all figuring out the best way to move forwards together.
Is the Starland Village a perfect project? No. But I’m not interested in perfection to be the enemy of the good.
Am I concerned about a lack of transparency and/or improper procedure in the City’s RFP process? Yes. But that does not change my support for this project or another one like it in that same location.
Inside and outside our the greater Thomas Square neighborhood, many support this project not for any dark or unseemly reason, but because it fits into a philosophy of sustainable development that we subscribe to.
We support density of housing, diversity of structural forms and the uses that inhabit them, and the strengthening of walkability, bikeability, and public transit.
Starland Village works towards all of these goals. I look forward to supporting it, and future developments that do as well. Not as a rule, but as a guideline.