Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Undoing Development: Back to the Future

College Avenue was once one of the most beautiful streets in Fayetteville, then the stately homes and large trees were demolished to make way for such commercial developments as Jim Hatfield’s used car lot and concrete strip malls with pawn shops. Progress and growth, the omnipotent Chamber and obedient city officials told us, as we traded our heritage for a mess of pottage and now-vacant buildings.

Six decades of commercial degradation of College Avenue is enough, agreed almost 50 of us during a public meeting at Jefferson School last night, and there will be another public meeting next Monday if you missed that one.

"This stretch of College Avenue is the most dangerous street in the two county area," said Mayor Dan Coody, who promised back during his 2000 campaign to beautify the street and create a boulevard from North Street. "It's just random chaos as far as any kind of traffic access management or pedestrianism. Also, it's just an eye-sore and we need to bring property values up.” Coody is generally right on this and deserves our support, despite making up big words like “pedestrianism” and assuming that increasing someone else’s property values is a priority for taxpayers.

The current proposal is to construct three medians on College Avenue between Maple and Dickson and to add trees to the medians and on both sides of the street, maybe even usable sidewalks that would be safe for pedestrians, using $1.74 million in funds from the 2006 bond issue.

Construction is set to begin in 2008 and be completed in 2009. Chris Brown, Engineering Design Manager, reportedly hopes that residents don't take issue with the current plan designs, but don’t let that stop you if you have suggestions to the Street Committee for making it better. Although they'll show up for the ribbon-cutting, you know the Chamber of Cowbirds will be fighting anything that inhibits vehicular commerce in the name of pedestrian safety and mere aesthetics, so citizens need to speak up for human scale and a more livable community.

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