03/09/12 — A step forward: Streetscape project will be shot in arm downtown needs

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A step forward: Streetscape project will be shot in arm downtown needs

Like it or not, Goldsboro cannot afford to have its downtown turn into a ghost town.

Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that is the reality if Goldsboro officials and its citizenry turn their backs on the city's Center Street area.

And while it would be nice to say that the downtown area will come back on its own, it won't. That is just a fact.

So what do we do as a community? Sit back and cede the area to crime and blight and encourage development elsewhere? Or do we try to come up with a way to add value to an historic portion of our community?

The answer is we "do something."

And right now, that something is Streetscape.

It is understandable that there would be some doubt on the part of the taxpayers -- especially on the heels of the seemingly endless supply of city decisions that suggest that some officials are simply throwing up ideas to see what will stick.

And considering the shaky economy and baby steps recovery, it is even more understandable that taxpayers would want to scream "Stop spending money NOW before we drop another million dollars on a project that will not see the light of day or will not make any difference anyway."

But there are times when you have to be brave, have to think longterm and have to take a step forward -- even if you are not sure what the final result will be.

And that time is now.

Streetscape is not a perfect plan. There will be challenges. There always are. But sitting back and letting downtown die is not good for anyone -- especially anyone who owns property in the city that they would like to see increase in value. And that doesn't just mean those close to the downtown area, either.

When a potential business investor looks at this community, its officers start with the downtown -- and then move on to the schools and other infrastructure. If any of those areas do not show signs of promise, the company moves on to another possibility.

And we cannot afford to have that happen.

A vibrant downtown area -- or at least one that has a direction and possibilities -- will be an asset that we can pass on to future generations and a step toward helping this community attract the attention and development it needs to stay healthy.

We should watch carefully -- scrutinize the bids, contracts and the connections. We should demand strict accounting for the project and the money that it will take to make it happen. We should hold any city official who does not adhere to this higher standard of openness and above-board dealings accountable.

But we should not sit still, not this time.

Building a community takes bravery -- and advancing a community takes foresight.

This is a step in that direction.

Let's not miss the chance.

Published in Editorials on March 9, 2012 11:02 AM