Central in 2075

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUE bWhen I was a kid my friends and I were constantly building forts.  Whether the fort was a treehouse, a fox hole, or just a thick clump of bushes, we were sure that we could defend it against all of the imaginary attackers, and that we could live forever off of the snacks we snuck out of the kitchen…. until it started raining, got dark, got cold, or we got hungry for real food.  This was a classic, though excusable because we were children, lack of long term planning.
    When I look around the Central community it is obvious that in 1950 no one in Central was planning an actual city, because that is not why my family and many others moved to this rural area.  Now, as we try to retrofit this community with an after-market version of a city, we face challenges that can only be solved in the long term, by planning not for today, but for the year 2075.
    Long Term Plans – During our first nine years as a city, our elected officials gave us a form of government, privatized city services, and formulated long-term plans for zoning, land use, traffic, and sewer.  Now, in addition to carrying out those plans, we are faced with defining how Central will look and feel in 2075.
    Two important decisions in defining the character of our city will be made in the next several years; where and what is “City Center” and what changes will be made to our sign ordinance.  As each of these issues move toward an actual decision point, I will try to keep our readers informed on what is happening and why.  In the meantime I would like to encourage everyone to keep the goal in mind; what Central will be in 2075.
    Signs of the Times – I have heard it argued, “Why not have big flashing signs?  Look at all of the old signs that don’t meet our new, more restrictive rules.”  Moving Central toward being a visually pleasing city will take time.  The old unregulated signs will eventually get replaced as businesses change, and with our current sign ordinance the streetscape of Central will be greatly improved by 2075.  
    I know that restrictive ordinances on new signs will seem a bit unfair today, but that is the only way to change the look and feel of Central’s streets in the long term.  I’m not likely to be alive in 2075, but I want to see the legacy of a beautiful community left for my grandchildren.
    City of the Future – The City Center Selection Committee was a talented and hard working group of professionals from many disciplines.  They did an admirable job of setting standards for what Central needs in a City Center that would help create a desirable “Downtown Central” in 2075.
    City Center is much more than a plot of ground on which to build City Hall.  If the guidance given by both our Master Plan process and the City Center Selection Committee is followed, look for a development that is more than a City Hall and a park.  It can and should lay the groundwork for a much larger area of Central that will one day be shops, restaurants, and a focal point for the community, downtown Central of 2075.  That would be Good News for a Great City.