Compromise, like marble cake, can make life better

Compromise. Simply put, compromise is the art of coming to an agreement or settlement in a dispute with each side making concessions.

Numerous books have been written about it. But there is nothing simple about compromising.

I am keenly aware of compromise this month because it’s something I’ve dealt with all my life. My sister and I have birthdays in November — a mere 13 days apart. Sandwiched in between was my grandfather’s. So, naturally, there was always one big family celebration. That meant one birthday cake and one gallon of ice cream.

My sister’s preference for cake and ice cream was always — and only — chocolate. I am firmly in the vanilla camp. I don’t recall my grandfather ever expressing a preference. Either way, my mom always made sure we had marble cake and Neapolitan ice cream for every celebration.

The idea of compromise also arose as we were writing about residents’ concerns about StoryBook Homes’ proposed subdivision.

Last week, StoryBook Homes’ representatives gathered with local citizens to hear what they had to say about the neighborhood as well as exchange ideas about what parameters would be acceptable for the development.

Among the issues discussed were streets, sidewalks, parking for recreational vehicles and neighborhood parks.

Already discussed with city officials, and firmly denied, were the variances the builder requested for narrower lot widths and spaces between homes.

Most of us like a bit of elbow room and building houses crammed against one another is certainly not in the best interest of future homeowners, especially in a luxury neighborhood.

It’s definitely not how I would want to live. In fact, I relish the location of my home where I have a neighbor only on one side and that our houses are two driveway widths apart.

I also understand locals’ concerns about narrow streets and the desire to have sidewalks on both sides.

Streets that are too narrow pose a traffic hazard not only for emergency vehicles but also for everyday traffic as people travel to and from their homes, especially if there is a car or two parked out front. Homeowners shouldn’t have to traverse an obstacle course to get home.

Mix recreational vehicles, which are typically wider than your average car or truck, into the situation and you have a recipe for accidents.

These are the types of situations where a compromise wouldn’t work. Safety, for example, should never be sacrificed.

However, when it comes to the amount of land dedicated to parks, a bit of compromise might be in order in this situation.

The city’s original proposal for the development requested 1.5 acres of land for parks. The builder is suggesting 1.4 acres, just .10 less land or about 4,300 square feet.

StoryBook also wants to split the total acreage into three smaller community parks, one for each phase of development. If divided equally among the phases, that would equate to about 1,100 square feet less per park. Would that space even be noticeable or missed?

If properly designed, small spaces can feel bigger and work just as hard as their larger counterparts. Consider tiny houses. Typically, they range between 100 and 400 square feet. Those who live in them are perfectly content.

Or think about RVs. These portable living spaces can contain all the modern conveniences and luxuries of a much larger home and thousands of people happily spend days, weeks and months in them — probably for a time longer than most folks would average on any given day in a local park.

It’s also a nice idea to have the ability to visit a smaller park closer to home. That could encourage someone to visit more often.

However, at the neighborhood meeting, one resident expressed his frustration with the builder’s desire to reduce the park size just because of the city’s original plan for the land — even though city officials were OK with the reduction in size.

Surely, this is an area where a compromise is in order.

Life is never all chocolate or vanilla. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of marble cake to make you happy.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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