Gonder: “We need to provide an environment that invites further, broader, entrepreneurial development of the downtown in order to keep the city in its current upswing.”

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John Gonder published this essay on January 11 as a prelude to Jeff Speck’s presentation. Quite simply, I forgot to link to it, but timeliness isn’t so much of an issue in a city meandering through time, content to accept the devil we know rather than upset a single elderly Democrat by suggesting change. But John is eloquent, and he is right … and there is no passion for this topic anywhere in the upper tiers of local government. I’m not pessimistic as we begin the inexorable shift into the non-committal that characterizes the run-up to the election year in 2015. I’m not optimistic, either. Just realistic. Too few of our best and brightest stick around. John’s one of them. Cherish him … and maybe, for once, we’ll get lucky.

And Yet, by John Gonder (Gonder for New Albany At-Large)

… The downtown has staged an impressive revival. And yet, it still needs all the help we can give it. It is still the heart of the city. Because of the newer bypassing opportunities of the interstate, the downtown no longer needs to be buzzed through to maintain traffic efficiency. We now need to put the plumbing back in the basement, and let the downtown recapture its place as a pedestrian oriented center. We need to return the city’s streets to two way traffic. We need to encourage walkable commerce. And, we need to provide an environment that invites further, broader, entrepreneurial development of the downtown in order to keep the city in its current upswing.

We need to recognize, facilitate, and capitalize, on the strong, and sensible trend to buy locally, as people see how such local commerce builds a sustainable, place-specific, prosperity for small towns. This trend is salvation. And to the extent that our street patterns, the leeway we cede to automobile convenience, undermine that trend, they must change, or we might miss the opportunity before us. Who can say when another trend will come our way?

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