10/26/09 — The good and bad: Downtown's first step is to deal with realities now, not just the future

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The good and bad: Downtown's first step is to deal with realities now, not just the future

Nobody wants to see downtown Goldsboro fail -- no one with any sense anyway.

Goldsboro is still the heart of this county -- and still the first place people and businesses look when they are deciding whether or not they will relocate in this area.

So, anyone who owns property here has every reason to want to hear good news coming out of downtown Goldsboro.

But new Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation board president Geoff Hulse and the rest of the members of his volunteer board have a big task at hand -- how to make Goldsboro and Wayne County leaders and residents see the value they see when they look up and down Center Street.

The reality is that there are some issues to deal with downtown -- there are dilapidated houses that still must come down, neighborhoods that are not what they need to be to encourage growth and, like it or not, more crime in the surrounding area than a developer would like to see.

Add to that the innate prejudice that downtowns all across America are facing -- outdated, dangerous and without much to attract traffic -- and you can see why getting people to change their attitudes has not been the easiest of tasks.

The trick to attracting people back downtown is simple -- give them a reason to be there and make sure they and their families are safe while they are there.

And that requires realizing that there are still many challenges ahead as Goldsboro continues its revitalization plans.

There might not be recorded crime, but there are derelicts and people who should not be there. There might be some new places to hang out -- but there are still a lot of empty storefronts.

But Hulse and his team, as well as the DGDC staff led by executive director Julie Thompson, seem to be ready to address those concerns, and are eager to help residents see the potential, the pitfalls as well as the possibilities that exist downtown right now.

All the awards and accolades in the world for design and planning mean nothing if residents do not see the value in their downtown.

Over the next year, the DGDC board and staff will try some new ways of showing residents that value.

But whatever method they choose, the first step will be looking at it all and talking about it all -- the good, the bad and the ugly now, as well as the potential that has yet to be realized.

Published in Editorials on October 26, 2009 10:40 AM