06/16/12 — Downtown roots: To cultivate a thriving Center Street, it takes more than pretty trees

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Downtown roots: To cultivate a thriving Center Street, it takes more than pretty trees

It might seem a little early to be thinking about the next step in the city of Goldsboro's plan for its downtown.

But, truth is, a set of best-laid plans is exactly what the city needs now -- that, and a renewed set of priorities and some imagination.

Bottom line is, it does not matter how many pretty fountains you have or how many shade trees line a walkway. If there are no businesses to attract people downtown, you have nothing more than a pretty space.

So while it is fun to talk about artist renderings and "what ifs," it is time for city officials in general and Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. in particular to think more along the lines of "what's next."

And that "next" should be recruiting business investment downtown and working on the downtown's image with residents. Period.

Truth be told, the city does not need a full slate of downtown events -- as much fun as they might be. What it needs to change hearts and minds about the downtown's future are storefronts that are well-maintained and filled with merchants and restaurants that are thriving. If downtown is interesting, safe and full of fun ways to entertain your family, residents will come.

That means progress toward no more tired facades and ill-kept properties, more viable enterprises and fewer hole-fillers and some restaurants with some staying power.

Successful recruitments and quality storefronts, more than any concert, pet parade or other event, will be what convince Goldsboro and area residents that there is a reason to go downtown.

And, we are sorry, but that has to come first.

It is not just about getting more people downtown. It is about getting them to stay there and have dinner, see a show or do some shopping. A two-hour event is great, but it does not translate into a viable and thriving downtown, and it won't change anyone's mind about what the city's downtown has to offer.

There will be many who will think there are better uses for the money that will continue to have to be spent to get the ball really rolling downtown.

And, if we are going to march along to the same old drummer, they will be right.

Creating a downtown like the one in Salisbury or Greenville, S.C., is going to take some time -- and the road will not always be easy. Those officials have already shared the road they had to take to achieve their goals. We should expect nothing less here.

But if the plans are good, the leadership solid, the discussions open and honest and if the right choices are made, downtown Goldsboro could become a place of possibilities.

City officials and personnel just have to keep their eyes on the ball.

And we have to keep our eyes on them.

Published in Editorials on June 16, 2012 11:05 PM