Our View: Master plan is still just the first step

Published 8:13 am Saturday, March 25, 2017

With the much-anticipated completion of the city’s downtown master plan, it is reasonable to say city leaders have a solid blueprint for success, but now must develop the detailed checklist that will connect the dots and build something truly greater than the sum of its parts.

The 10 overarching recommendations in the plan were:

— improved code enforcement and public safety efforts

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— new outdoor dining and use regulations

— establishment of a facade grant program including ground floor retail

— redevelopment of Sphar building to include tourist/local presence

— creation of a downtown investment fund

— establish a downtown tax increment financing district

— initiation of a High Side Linear Park design

— encouragement of additional market rate housing

— unified downtown streetscape design elements

— enhanced marketing of downtown

Each one is important and the key will be developing a clear plan as to which ones will be implemented and under what timeline. Many are interconnected and will need to be tackled concurrently.

Better code enforcement, façade improvements, creating a downtown investment fund and the sidewalk renovation project on the north side of Main Street certainly jump to the top of the list, in our opinion.

Drafting this plan was a critical investment in the city’s future but, on its own without focused follow through, it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on.

As Mayor Ed Burtner aptly said, “The real work begins now.”

It was also be important that city leaders frequently and consistently re-evaluate the overall approach and the progress toward achieving each of these goals.

Setting benchmarks and holding everyone involved accountable when it comes to achieving them will create very visible and tangible results in downtown that will spark more progress and help fan the flames of community pride.

Developing the master plan was the first step — the blueprint and the foundation, if you will — now we can truly begin building a better downtown and a stronger community.