Revitalizing Downtown

On the way to the Frazier History Museum to sit in on the ‘Jump-Start Downtown’ program, I admired the beauty of several blocks of Main Street. I thought of equally pleasant blocks along Fourth Street, and blocks along Market Street in NULU. I then marveled at how other areas are so physically unattractive, lacking the elements that encourage a family stroll.

The panel, united in considering it an imperative, discussed how to make downtown more inviting. “How do we get people back on the street?”. The discussion addressed many aspects of urban life with housing playing a central role and leading to the conclusion that downtown also is a neighborhood. That ‘strolling family’ came back to mind – that family enjoying the clean, quiet, peaceful, safe evening under a canopy of leaves, admiring historical architecture. Also to mind came the current reality of narrow sidewalks and speeding cars along wide, wide roads. To mind came the current reality of limited affordable housing and a superfluity of surface parking lots. Our priorities are clearly skewed toward cars rather than people and housing. The roar of engines and the blare of radios attest to little concern for peace and quiet. Even the title of the evening’s discussion, ‘Jump-Start’ Downtown, references our motorized inclination.

When we closed local parks to motorized traffic the park roads filled with strollers enjoying the clean, quiet, peaceful, safe, greenery of the parks. “How do we get people back on the street?”