Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Visions Committee

A couple months ago I was asked by the Visions Committee of the Chamber of Commerce (I'm on the Board but many people other than Board members were asked) what my vision was for New Bern over the upcoming years, 10 - 20 -30 years. From that questionaire the committee asked for volunteers to sit on committees to come up with a consensus of what our vision for the area would be.

The different focus groups are Transportation, Business Development, Five Points/Broad Street, Retail Growth, Entertainment and Environment.

A surprising 90 people volunteered to be on these Vocus Groups. What I wrote about being interested in is the visual look of our town and outdoor ammenities or the Environment Group.

It will be interesting to see what others vision is.

I have a couple things I'm really concerned about. I would like to see dedicated bike trails throughout the area. In my mind a 2 foot extension of the car lane with a white line is not a bike trail. I would love to ride my bike down to Taberna or out to River Bend without having to ride on the road. I envy areas that have the Rails to Trails in their area.

Walking trails go hand in hand with Bike Trails. Another good website is Walkable Cities.

I would like some rules about landscaping on the approaches to town. I think about being on the outer banks last year and seeing miles of solidly built road ways, few if any trees and lots of concrete. Then when you got up to Duck it was still solidly built but between the buildings and the road there were trees, grass and other plantings. I can still remember feeling tense during the concrete part and my feeling of relief and calmness when I got to the green area. We have a beautiful town here and we need to be paying attention to the approaches as well as the city itself. I want to see commercial development, we need it to take care of the people that are moving here but it can be done in a sensitive manner.

I'm thrilled with the new Paddle Trail system that we have, I wrote about that in a previous blog entry. You can pick up one of the maps at the visitors center at the Convention Center.

An offshoot of the 300th Committee is the River Walk Committee. The vision is to have a walk along the Neuse and Trent Rivers from Riverside to Lawson Creek Park. This is well underway but will need the support of all of us. Some of the sculptures in the Sculpture Park at the corner of Middle and Broad will go along the River Walk. A Donor has commissioned a very large moving sculpture that will sit at the end of Broad Street , I'll be able to see it from my house, can't wait.

I'm sure others on my committee have their own things of interest. Our job is to come up with the vision, we don't have to tell anyone how to accomplish it.

When we're finished we'll present our visions to both the City Alderman and the County Commissioners.

We have lots of issues just like any other city that is growing, but I've learned you have to pick your battles. One thing I can't help myself but have to say..... a week or so ago there was a letter to the editor about skysail, the talbots building, the sculpture park. About how horrible all these things were and Downtown needs to stay just the was it was. We need rules for building and growth but if we just stay the same we're dead. I think about what our Downtown was like when we opened Carolina Creations in 1990, it was kind of sad.

I don't remember who said it but he (or she) said "when you're finished changing, you're finished."

Keep the Faith! Jan Francoeur

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