The Garden City Telegram
1/19/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

New vision

It's a good time for talks on future of downtown.

Garden City boasts a healthy, inviting downtown district.

Yet it could be so much more.

Ideally, the historic downtown district would have even more retail outlets, eateries and entertainment venues that attract people and foster an even brighter economic picture.

Volunteers and staff of Garden City Downtown Vision, launched as a Kansas Main Street affiliate, have been steadfast in organizing efforts to revitalize and support the historic downtown district and its small businesses.

In the midst of its many initiatives, Downtown Vision forces have considered the potential of downtown master plan. Discussion of such a blueprint for future success in the downtown district also emerged in the midst of the city's work on its comprehensive plan.

Local residents will have an opportunity to offer input on whether the city should move forward with a master plan for downtown Garden City during a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the second floor meeting room of the City Administration Center.

Those who'd question the need to single out one area of the community and its retail interests in such a way should consider the value of a vibrant downtown district.

Many prospective new residents considering a move to Garden City — be it professionals, representatives of businesses or others — often ask to see the city's downtown. A drab, uninviting downtown would send a message that people here don't care about their city.

Sadly, many places in Kansas and beyond have allowed their downtown districts to deteriorate. That's not been the case here, fortunately.

Discussion of a master plan for downtown Garden City also would bring an opportunity to consider how Downtown Vision could evolve in the wake of the state opting to shutter the Kansas Main Street program, which had its own set of guidelines for member cities.

Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to seek public input from voices on Main Street and beyond on where the downtown district is headed.

By pursuing as much in a master plan, the community would be able to craft its own vision of an even better downtown Garden City, and how to arrive at that important destination.