08/18/07 — In transit: With passenger rail coming, planning has to be right on time

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In transit: With passenger rail coming, planning has to be right on time

Goldsboro has an opportunity.

And for right now, that’s all — and that’s enough.

The news that the North Carolina Department of Transportation is partnering with the city to bring passenger rail through Goldsboro — and that a restored Union Station will be a byproduct of that focus — is just another piece placed in the puzzle of how to create a prosperous and thriving downtown.

The idea did not just come up yesterday afternoon — and getting the NCDOT stamp of approval did not come with a couple of 10-minute phone calls.

Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. executive director Julie Thompson and local historian and economic development volunteer Charlie Gaylor were among the leaders who decided to make sure Goldsboro would be heard and remembered when the time came to set the route.

They — as well as city officials and others who worked tirelessly for years behind the scenes — are why there was reason to celebrate this week.

So, Friday morning, Goldsboro got its big announcement — commuter rail is coming, and a new depot is first on the list of “to-do” projects to get ready for it.

But an announcement is just that — an announcement.

While there is good news coming, there will be a lot of work necessary to get ready, and later, to capitalize on the opportunities passenger rail could bring.

There will be the naysayers who will point out that making such a project a success is not simply a matter of putting up a sign that says “trains, here.”

And they will be right. Without a detailed plan, a whole lot of imagination and a community committed to addressing the problems downtown and turning those obstacles into attributes, an announcement of any kind is wasted.

So, over the next few months — and probably years — city officials and others will be poring over maps, plans and possibilities, trying to figure out how to turn this news into real economic progress for Goldsboro. And they will probably ask, too, for the public’s ideas and input. We should be ready to contribute.

There are already plans to turn downtown Goldsboro into a thriving area where families and visitors want to be. The re-opening of the Paramount will be one of the first jewels in that crown.

It will be exciting to see where we go from there.

In the meantime, there is reason to look ahead with confidence and to celebrate that good news came our way.

Next on the list will be making sure we don’t squander the opportunity.

Published in Editorials on August 18, 2007 11:57 PM