The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Changing Face of Bessemer

There is a new blog that I have been asked to contribute to, called Politics 08. The organizers are trying to get people from every state to contribute about politics from a local, state and national level. I will be contributing on occasion, and my first contribution is yesterday's post from this blog. New posts from any state headline the site, but all posts from any one state can be found under that state's tag.

Last night's meeting of the Bessemer Downtown Redevelopment Authority and Auburn University's School of Architecture Urban Studio regarding a plan for downtown was a huge success. It was benefical to have input and suggestions from a group of people who do not have tunnel vision because of their poor opinions of our city and their unwillingness to look outside of the box that Bessemer is stuck in.

If you were there, you know who I'm talking about.

More than 100,000 cars a day pass by our city on the interstate, and currently there is nothing to lure them off the highway. No destination, and not sign to direct them even if there was something there to attract them.

Among the highlights of the presentation were a railroad park along the tracks, changing the Depot to a welcome center, and linking the park via an extended trestle to be used as a bike and walking trail, to other trails and parks, including eventually Red Mountain Park. Pavilions and a restuarant would make the park inviting and user friendly.

The Hall of History would be moved to a new site and combined with a Fire Fighters museum that could display the wealth of old Fire Trucks and such that are in storage, along with an enhanced railroad related museum and Bessemer history museum.

Another major change would be doing away with one way streets (18th and 19th). I agree. Their studies show that doing that would increase availiable parking and make the downtown more pedestrian friendly. Also two way streets tend to slow traffic down and make drivers more likely to stop rather than just racing through.

Tearing the tacky siding off the downtown buildings and revealing and restoring their historic architecture would be another major change.

Probably the most controversial suggestion is to move the flea market to the edge of downtown around 22 street (I didn't see exactly where) to bring more life to the area on weekends.

Lots of green space and greenways. Uncovering cobblestone on some of the avenues.

One disappointment was the lack of city officials at the event. Sarah Belcher was the only current elected official there. However there was one unannounced potential 2010 mayoral candidate there.

The Urban Studio will return in mid October with the final product, including poster size maps with drawings and descriptions that can act as a beginning, not a finished product of how Bessemer will be. After that it will be up to progressive, forard looking residents, business leaders and city officials to get any of the ideas to become reality. The can-dos have to outnumber the can't-dos, and right now I am not sure they do. But that can change.

No comments: