LITTLE VALLEY - Since April, officials from Cattaraugus County and Wendell, a consulting firm out of Amherst, have been taking input from residents on what the direction of the county should be, as the steps progress in drafting a new county comprehensive plan. Thursday night, members of the county Planning Board saw their first glimpse of the results.
"We have seen good input from the people of Cattaraugus County," said Ellen Parker, Wendell consultant. "We had the three public meetings, in three areas of the county, and the results were pretty consistent, as to what your population would like to see."
While the meeting held April 29 in Olean had more of a focus on jobs, all seemed to drive more to the need to preserve the rural climate of the county, Parker said. While growth was ranked as being important, the survey results have shown that the 220 respondents of the survey would like to see development take place in areas that already have infrastructure built to support it, such as the traditional settlement areas, as Parker expressed it.
"That is actually consistent with what New York state has expressed that they would like to see," she said.
Public input has led to the creation of sic key goal areas for the comprehensive plan, according to the findings of consultants. The first goal is for the county to retain its rural character, Parker said. In doing this, preservation of the rural areas, and keeping development in traditional areas, will be a key, if the draft plan is approved.
The second goal for the county would be to develop a "strong, sustainable economy where residents can support their families and their quality of life," Parker said to the board members. In short, that would mean jobs and job training, she said.
Ecological and environmental development would also need to be developed, according to responses, Parker said. The role of the natural economy ranked high on the scale for respondents. Other areas that ranked high enough to be key areas were promotion of the agricultural heritage and economy of the county, restoration and revitalization of the historic settlements, and promote a greater range of options for transportation and housing for county residents.
Other areas to be included, according to board members would be health care access and availability in the county. Board member Robert Keis of Mansfield said an ambulance that may be called to his part of the county for a medical emergency may take an hour to get there, with another 45 minutes to the hospital. Situations like that have to be examined, he said.
The next phase in the process will be assembling the draft plan proposal. Online surveys are still available for those that have not been able to let their voices be heard as of yet. The survey can be found at cattco.org/planning/comprehensive-plan-survey. It will be up for another month or so to make sure a good representation of ages and locations are considered.