Now don't get me wrong, I like me some Downtown Greenway (N&R). I think the concept is just as Councilman Perkins describes: "...a forward-thinking initiative. But before we go and start considering a bond package for voters to consider in 2006 for the Greenway's estimated $25M price tag, let's see what else is in the 'in-need-of-possible-bond-funding' pipeline. Hey wait... here's one. Allow me to do a little bitching.
The $100,000 Summit Avenue Corridor Study is the first step toward the implementation plans to improve one of Greensboro's "gateways" into downtown that just happens to run through the middle of the Aycock Neighborhood. Our City Council funded (PDF file) this study with $75k from the general fund on June 15th of 2004. To make sure the study would get going on as fast a track as possible, we, here in Aycock, even committed a portion or our Municipal Service District funds ($25k) to the study. We put our money where our mouths are because we believe this is an important project for all of Greensboro.
So what do we have so far? Except for plans for more plans... not much really. Best I can tell, I think the City might have finally hired a firm to do the study but, I mean, my God, do we have to make city government think ours is an Action Greensboro initiative to get things going here in East Greensboro?
Why does this frustrate me? Because Action Greensboro can hire someone to hold a few meetings and come up with a consensus plan for a Greenway, and all of a sudden there is talk of floating a $25M bond next year. Why weren't they required by the City to take months developing a Strategic Plan like we did? Nope, they just said this is what we want, this will be good for Greensboro, and here is the cost - let's do it. Well why don't you just get in line like all the rest of us Action Greensboro?
Aycock hired Phillip Bess and 16 other architects/planner to come up with our plans in 2002, but the City's response to its implementation has been slow and deliberate... and that's fine, great things take time - especially when you are dealing with a governmental bureaucracy. It just seems that unless you have either 'Action' AND 'Greensboro' stamped on your plans, 'fast-track' is just a horse racing term.
Here's the thing. We have private investors and developers who are ready to put their money in and around Aycock because they see this area as being ripe for new-urbanist influenced development. And let me remind you again, Aycock proudly wears the 'East Greensboro' moniker. Thanks to the processes we have been through for many years now, Aycock understands and embraces high denstity, mixed-use, in-fill development and we are chomping at the bit to make it all happen. But until this one-of-these-days Corridor Study is completed, with its accompanying and enabling zoning and ordinance change recommendations, the city will be telling interested developers and entrepreneurs to cool their heels.
In addition, by all accounts, the money required for renovation of War Memorial Stadium and the area surrounding that landmark will require a voter approved bond... probably in the neighborhood of $7M (I pulled that number out of my *ss, just like AG probably did for the $25M Greenway pricetag). How's about going ahead and putting THAT on the ballot for 2006 city officials? Hell, go ahead and make it $11M and we'll fold our plans for Veteran's Plaza and the Greensboro Farmer's Curb Market expansion into the deal. If we don't spend it all, we promise to give it back. If it takes more than that, we'll have a friggin' bake sale or something... we're good at raising our own money and spending it on Greensboro's future just like Action Greensboro. What we're not good at is competing with Action Greensboro for political pull, political expediency and the resulting money that flows from both.
I'm telling you, playing by the rules and without Action Greensboro's blessing will get you little more than slow-turning wheels down at City Hall. Come on people in power... good ideas, good planning, catalytic economic development, and 'forward-thinking initiatives' are not the exclusive providence of Action Greensboro and DGI.