I'm currently enjoying the refreshing cool temperatures that have finally arrived in Tucson!
Thank's Chuck for the opportunity to discuss this topic. The more people that see downtown Tucson as a destination and have occasion to go there, the more 'vibrant' it becomes - for example: office workers, merchants, shoppers, bicyclists, tourists, walkers, joggers, event participants and organizers, artists, musicians, business people, developers, renters, condo owners, the handicapped, etc. These folks are the 'stakeholders' in a 'vibrant' downtown - and the city can work with all of them to create a framework that will help to meet their needs, both as a group and individually. Fire and Police protection helps the group as a whole of course, but a single developer or shop owner may need a personal solution to their situation from the city - and I think the city should work with them to find a proper solution that creates a win-win situation for everyone.
I agree with you - why should a city be at odds with the very people that live there? The city should build partnerships with everyone that has a stake in the long term outcome of creating a vibrant city that meets and respects the needs of all its people.
Urban planners should look at downtown Tucson with "fresh eyes" and see that it is too confined an area (between I-10 and the railroad tracks) to continue to cater to the automobile. Instead, they should approach the entire notion of what downtown should be from the perspective of what's good for "people" is also good for the environment, nature and for business. Make downtown a "livable" space where people want to be: pedestrian zones, bicycle paths, walking paths, minimized vehicle traffic (through the use of expanded mass transportation and 'park and ride' options), public spaces, urban gardens, park benches, landscaping, trees and sun shades - and then take care of it. If you do, people will gather, walk, bike, exercise, socialize and bring their wallets with them. Businesses will want to be there and people will spend their money. But to do this, the automobile needs to be kept away from the core of downtown to the maximum extent possible. More of the same (ie: cars, traffic lights, street signs, one way streets, etc.) will only convince folks to stay away from downtown. The "creative class" is very much alive and well... Cheers, Mark
An additional idea would be to actually "invest" in our youth in a meaningful way that would help both the kids and the community at the same time. A structured after school program for school age kids, and an alternative program for young adults, would actually "teach" the kids life skills in a supervised environment while providing meaningful job skills. They could also participate in community projects, such as: building playgrounds, cleaning parks, planting trees and restoring public areas and property - as a way to channel their youthful energy into something positive and get a "paycheck" at the same time for participating. Cheers, Mark
Why not create a downtown that is "people and family friendly," where folks can meet and socialize, bicycle, walk, and jog through landscaped pedestrian zones and urban parks - under multicolored shade screens, alongside urban sculptures, with park benches and lots of trees and plantings in a "green environment" - that minimizes traffic and promotes pedestrians, joggers and bicycles? The modern streetcar fits in perfectly with this picture - just provide free public transportation downtown and also use a park-and-ride system to get folks into downtown - or they can walk or bicycle. If folks want to be downtown...they will also spend their money there and support local downtown merchants and restaurants.
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