The Future of Downtown

Calendar Feedback: City Council column belonged on front page but cut

The city’s annual Town Hall meeting on Feb. 12 was very well attended but the first panel session, “Community Development in the Spotlight – A New Era,” could not attract the people that wanted to hear it.

I was one of those people. Unfortunately, I did not hear a single word from the panel speakers as they focused on the future of city-owned land near the downtown.

It was really frustrating because the issues facing that land and the city are so important and so vital.

As Councilman Michael Nutter and I have discussed in the past, we need a more active and aggressive outreach program to the businesses in our city about their future plans. Last year, we did some planning sessions with the various groups involved in the community.

Since then, things have changed. The Downtown Improvement Association is going to start its annual meeting next month in the old courthouse building. The new downtown library is also coming soon.

Another thing is that the area of downtown where most of the problems are to be found is about to become home to the largest, most comprehensive and most important economic activity in our city. The redevelopment of the old mill building is just getting started and plans are now being made for a new commercial building in City Center and more residential units in the other parts of the city.

The economic impact from the development of this area will be enormous. We should have a plan worked out for the community to be ready when it happens.

There are many different groups involved in the new and planned downtown, but the Downtown Improvement Association’s annual meeting has been a model for other organizations.

To be more effective, our outreach program needs to be coordinated with the various groups. At the end of the meeting, I would have liked the mayor to give me a call and ask if we can start working on a plan for the future of downtown. He must have read the Town Hall meeting and realized there were not a lot of people there to

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