When Central Grows Up

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUE bI remember as a kid wanting to be a professional basketball player, a doctor, a pilot, and an NFL football coach.  I’m not sure which dream I had when I was 10 years old, but Central is 10 now, and I want to know: Central, what do you want to be when you grow up?
    Here are a few of the things I have heard: More businesses, less businesses, four-lane streets, less traffic, big new subdivisions, no new subdivisions, big lots and lots of trees out in the country, tiny lots in the middle of town, a progressive and fast-growing city, the quiet rural town of the 60’s.
    The problem is, Central can’t be all of those things. If Central tries to be too many things, it will fail to be any of those things.  It is critical that Central decide what it wants to be and take steps to become the best at whatever that is.
    I’ve recently expressed my frustration about the School System’s lack of a long-term facilities plan.  I find the City’s situation oddly similar.  We have a Master Plan (assuming our City Council is still on board) which shapes how and where the city can grow, but it does not tell us what we are growing to become.
    I’m not satisfied with the idea that Central needs to be bigger so that we can be bigger.  We need to aspire to something.  There is no right answer, and perhaps no one answer, but it is worth a discussion.
    Communities across the country have defined themselves in many ways.  Some are the most exclusive with the biggest lots and homes.  Others thrive on night life.  Some build on their place in history.  Some become famous for the arts, and others for sports and recreation.
    At a glance, Central has a head start in three areas that already begin to define this community.  Central has been a quiet rural community for generations.  Central has good schools.  Central is a safe community.
    If I were asked to tell someone today why they should move to Central, I would say we are a quiet, safe community where our children get a good education.  What better credentials can a city have?
    The next time someone suggests we need another subdivision or commercial development or apartment complex, ask them how that will contribute to what Central wants to be when it grows up.  If they can tell you, great, they have a vision for Central’s future.  If the only answer to what Central wants to be when it grows up, is “bigger,” we need to re-think our plans.
    A Master Land Use Plan that tells us WHERE to grow is a very good tool.  Now, perhaps let’s start a discussion about WHY we are growing and what we want to become.  That would be Good Planning for a Great City.

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