May 8, 2004


While I've been working on a piece that explains the relationships between state, county, town, and village governments, I've also been spending a lot more time in the Village of Dryden. (I'm regularly there while collecting materials for this site.) I have to admit that I've developed a certain amount of jealousy for things the Villages of Dryden and Freeville have which simply aren't available in the rest of the town.

First and foremost, having a village makes decision-making local. The residents of the Village of Dryden don't have to hope that the Town of Dryden will see things their way when it comes to planning or roads, two of the harder issues in the town. They still have a voice in town government, and town government still affects them, but they can make decisions based on what's right for their area, and have access to resources to implement those decisions. (Towns and villages can also cooperate on planning, as this article on Groton's planning process demonstrates.)

The Villages also have some control over traffic through their areas. Route 13 on the western edge of the Village may feel like the road was built for 45 or 55 mph, but the Village police make certain it stays at 30. Police cars have a way of reminding motorists to pay close attention to their driving. A tremendous amount of traffic passes through the villages of Dryden and Freeville every day, but the villages have a much stronger opportunity to set the rules for that than the town does.

In addition to police, villages can also manage their own fire services. In Dryden, the villages contribute to their 'home' fire companies (Neptune and W.B. Strong), which also participate in the town fire district.

Villages can also create shared community places - parks and village halls. It's still not always easy to create these things, but villages come with mechanisms for funding them. It helps when villages have a natural center area, a big advantage I think Dryden has, for instance, over Lansing, but a village hall drives traffic (and perhaps community) to some extent.

I recognize that all of these things come with costs, and that community needs to come before incorporation. I don't plan to move to a village for those benefits (I like my house and where we live), but it's hard not to admire them.

Posted by simon at May 8, 2004 9:43 AM in
Note on photos