My Address to City Council
On March 26, 2017, I posted several pictures of two primary streets in my hometown - Main Street and Pike Street. I asked those who visited my Facebook page to provide their thoughts as to how we might make our uptown more attractive. In my lead-in, I said I would compile the responses and present my findings to our City Council.
Here are the posted pictures
When one addresses our City Council, each speaker is allowed three minutes, but may request an additional three minutes, which I did and was granted. Unfortunately, my time expired before I had finished my prepared remarks. This is my entire presentation:
"I stand before you representing my self, no other organization. For the past four years I have been involved in many city revitalization efforts. As a result of those efforts, I have received much feedback. With this feedback in mind, I began to think perhaps I was too close to the situation to be objective. Therefore, on March 26, I posted on Facebook a few pictures of the two main streets in my town. I asked, "What can we do to make our city more attractive?" I received 65 posts, both public and private messages.
My purpose was not to embarrass. Not to offend. And not to defend. My purpose was to gather opinions...an informal survey if you may. I reviewed the comments and categorized then into the following areas - areas the respondents felt would make our city more attractive: (a) Develop a tasteful vision by painting, cleaning store fronts and adding signage; (b) Add color. - flowers, colorful awnings,benches, and trees; (e) Create outdoor dining and evening opportunities; (d) Add public Art. Art is the heart of revitalization; (f) Aggressively address the panhandling and prostitution problem.
Now, keep these in mind as we enter the future: Our city has just spent $16 million dollars renovating an historic theater, now called the Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center. Imagine this: It is May 18, 2018. Opening night. Sold out. People have come from all over the state and many from surrounding states - 950 ticket holders filled with anticipation. Some have never been to Clarksburg and have planned to come early to dine uptown and shop. As they walk the streets, what do they see? What will they feel?
Many park in the Jackson Square Parking Facility. As they walk from the Square, what do they see? What will they feel? Some park on 3rd Street, 4th Street, and Main Street. Those who parked on Main Street: As they get out of their cars, they see...? Some are parking on 3rd Street and consider taking an alley short cut - but they see...? As visitors walk to the theater, what do they see? What do they feel? Yes, some see a beautiful Civil-war era home (The Waldomore), a newly opened Credit Union, and a modern library. Yet, as they continue to walk, they come upon a bus stop with people milling around, some sitting on the ground. Some are...? Further down the street, a man approaches the theater group and asks for...?
What will be their impression of our city?
Finally, the theatergoers approach a magnificent building - The Robinson Grand. Once inside and seated, they look around and are over whelmed with beauty and technology. And, the performance, by a national headliner, was what they expected.
Now, it is 10:30 p.m. People are exiting the theater. One group says, "Let's go uptown and get a cocktail. They walk up 4th Street and want to take a short cut, but...? Others walk down Main Street looking for a late-night coffee shop to relax and talk about the performance before going home, but they find...?
What is the image we want visitors to have when they enter our city? What is the image we want them to have when they leave?
I know first-hand our City has accomplished much; sidewalk replacement, better lighting on Main Street, flowers on our light poles, some painting and paving. I am also aware of many PLANS: 2nd Street island renovation, Mayor's Challenge, 'possible' planters for Main Street, and perhaps there are many more PLANS I am not aware of. Personally, I would like to see plans (carried through) to place Ambassadors on the streets on event nights. However:
VISITORS AND RESIDENTS DO NOT SEE PLANS!
Think for a moment? What will they see? What will they feel? Will it be "Positive & Pleasant" or will it be...? We want our visitors to return, again and again.
People stand before you all the time: Complaining. Saying "I want... Do this... Do that...." I am not one of those. I am not running for office. I am not a politician. But I an standing before you asking, " What can we do together!" This is MY town. This is Your town. This is Our town. I was born and raised here. I remember what WAS. I see what IS. And, I want to be part of what Could be.
I want to make certain our visitors have a "Positive & Pleasant" experience. Ask yourselves," Are we ready?"
Remember, "People do not see plans!"
When all is said and done. When opening night is over. I want everyone to say, "THIS IS AN AMAZING CITY!"
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you tonight."
That my friends is what I presented to City Council on May 4, or would have presented if I had not exceeded my allotted time. When I got to "Visitors and residents do not see plans" I was out of time. So, I stopped and said, "I want to be part of the solution.What can we do together?"
As stated in the beginning, "My purpose for posting these pictures was not to embarrass. Not to offend. Not to defend." Nonetheless, regardless of interpretation, I do hope I made a few people think.Time will tell. We only have 12 months"
And that is the way I see it.
Until next time,