Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Louisville metro and our place in it: The words are watching.

(H/T to Gabe Bullard of WFPL for the article link)

Has anyone else noticed that when local independent sorts are left to their own devices the metro area tends to get great national coverage and makes "best of" lists but when the regional power structure intervenes we always seem to get targeted with suspicious glances and generally confused disbelief?

Like the Ohio River, a Bridge Project Divides a Community, by Bobby Allyn (New York Times)

Hank V. Savitch, a professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville, said that while some cities were shifting away from accommodating cars, Louisville’s project signaled a declaration of faith in suburban-style growth.
“They’re still fighting the last urban war, which was highway development — but that’s not the nature of the future of the city,” Professor Savitch said. “It will dissipate energy in the central city, where they should be concentrating investment, and instead draw capital to the outer metropolitan area.”

For New Albany, a complete streets and "streets as places" initiative is as much necessary defense mechanism as it is forward movement at this point but, the more we shed the 1Si/GLI/everybody-and-everything-in-service-to-exurban-expansion model, the more success we'll have in being the river hugging city we were designed to be. It's perhaps uncomfortable to think we've regressed to the point that something as fundamental as reclaiming our public streets for multiple, human uses - for the people who live and work here - needs to framed within the same pioneering ethos that built this place, but it's where we are 200 years into our history. In many ways, we're a start-up again and, like Louisville, our locally elected New Albany leaders would do well to heed the work of the independents already rebuilding and declaring us forward rather than outward bound.

In the early eighteen hundreds, pretty much everybody else hereabouts goose stepped in succession on the eastern side of the falls except for us and we became a gateway to something else entirely. It sounds more maudlin than I'd like, but wouldn't it be great if that were true again?

We have the basic infrastructure in place. We have the brains and the other resources. As Roger alluded recently, all we really have to do is decide.

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