Mayor Roger McMillian and other members of the Stillwater City Council have a point when they say planning documents should be read with some flexibility. Taken too literally, these documents can handcuff boards trying to adapt to changing circumstances.

Still, the reason we have plans is so they will be followed. Case in point: Stillwater’s Transportation Enhancement Plan, which the council approved Monday but not before McMillian and council members made it clear they retained the right to adapt to future situations, whether those adaptations are outlined in the plan or not.

The STEP, in part, is due to the horrible situation the city faced with streets and sidewalks. For most of the past decade, city officials have been making great strides to fix problems — gravel streets in the city core, horrible or non-existent sidewalks — that should have been taken care of many, many years earlier.

One of the reasons they weren’t is that there was no plan or, in the cases plans did address the issues, the plans were not followed.

McMillian and current council members have done well to correct these problems and they have earned the right to have some flexibility to do what they deem best in the future. But they also have the responsibility to make sure Stillwater does not end up with another mess for future councils to fix.

And that is the priority of any plan, and why we create them in the first place.

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