The city council will be discussing community goals at the July 5th meeting. A PDF file of the proposed goals can be downloaded from the city’s website. I’m not going to go over every single item since anyone can read through the document but there were some things that stuck out that I found particularly interesting.
The goals are grouped together into five main categories:
- Prioritize & Support Infrastructure Improvements
- Creation of First Class Tech Community
- Continued Creation – Development Community of Choice
- Neighborhood Revitalization
- Organizational Operations
Infrastructure improvements and neighborhood revitalization are fairly self-explanatory. Organizational operations pertain mainly to city staff operating more efficiently. The creation of a first class tech community refers to fiber optic cables. Development community of choice refers to developing pro-growth business policies, connecting Decatur to Amtrak by either bus or rail, extending city bus hours on certain routes, skills training, amongst other things.
Things That Caught My Attention
Respondents requested more business incentives, restaurants on the city’s south side, Chipotle, Trader Joes, Burlington Coat Factory, and a food truck park in front of Northgate Mall. Road improvements for Mound and Main Street from Garfield to Eldorado were also requested, as well as beautifying the city’s main corridors.
I would probably agree with all of the public’s recommendations listed in the presentation except the truck park in front of Northgate Mall. I think Northgate would benefit by demolishing the closed car wash on Pershing to make the mall more visible from Pershing. With an abandoned eyesore blocking the view of the mall, I can’t imagine it impresses too many prospective retailers. I don’t think a truck park would impress them either. A more welcoming and impressive entrance from Pershing is needed, in my opinion. I’m not opposed to a truck park locating elsewhere in the city if it fits in well with the surroundings.
Mound Road Retail Development
The other main thing that jumped out at me was retail development at the Mound and US 51 intersection. It is listed as a goal. The Target area is pretty much full, so I’m assuming the city is wanting to continue to develop other areas in the vicinity, possibly to the north and/or northeast of Target. This is probably one of the busiest intersections in the city and I’m sure Decatur would love to capture shoppers before they head on north to Forsyth and attract out-of-towners from nearby I-72.
I grew up in the neighborhood directly to the southeast of the intersection so I know a lot of the history surrounding that part of town, from the neighborhood being annexed by the city in the late 80s, when Walmart opened just to the north, to Mound Middle School being closed, and Target being built. Heck, I remember when Mound Road was rock and horses and chickens lived on the property where Thorntons gas station is now located. And I’m not THAT old!
I know more land will be developed for retail purposes in that area. It’s just a matter of time and I’m okay with that as long as it doesn’t destroy the character and property values of the surrounding neighborhoods. If it’s another gaming parlor, heck no! If it’s tasteful restaurants and retail that would fit well inside a neighborhood, I’d consider it. It could be a tremendous asset to the area if it’s done with the neighborhood in mind. My land management training is kicking in here. Natural resource management is primarily about land management.
I’d like to see standards built into any type of proposed development in that area with strict guidelines as to what can locate there and what can’t to preserve what’s already functioning well. It makes no sense to sacrifice a neighborhood for retail. Responsible homeowners tend to stay and remain invaluable assets to the community, if they’re happy in their surroundings and with the city. Retail businesses come and go.
Well, I’ll end it here because I’m getting long-winded. I’ll have a rundown of what the council members had to say on here next week. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!