The discussion last week at a Winder council hearing over the city’s Streetscape project plans points to just how difficult these projects can be.
A group of local business leaders objected to some of the project’s proposals, including a plan to remove some parking downtown. In addition, there were questions about the removal of some left turning lanes in the downtown.
The problem here is that this type of issue has no black-and-white answers. On the one hand, the city is proposing to spend over $870,000 for what it believes will help the business in downtown Winder. On the other hand, removing parking spaces and changing routes in a town where they often command a premium and where traffic is problematic is always going to concern merchants.
Winder’s downtown isn’t as bad off as some small communities, but it has the potential to have a much neater and aesthetically pleasing image. That is part of what Streetscape is about.
On the other hand, Streetscape is not silver bullet for revitalizing downtowns, either. Projects such as this are often oversold by consultants and others who believe that such environmental changes will draw more business into a community.
Maybe, but as many other towns have discovered, people don’t flock to shop in a downtown just because it looks good. That may be part of the process, but there are towns that made large investments in downtown revitalization only to see a continued erosion of retail stores and an increase in boarded up buildings.
As more hearings are held, both merchants and city officials need to discuss their respective concerns and ask these questions: What is the cost? What is the likely return on that investment? And will there potentially be unintended negative consequences of doing the revitalization as proposed?
For the one that don't understand is that if you hold on the past, then the future of winder will be looking like a ghost town soon. if you don't learn from your past or learn from other this city will be a sinking ship that will not be able to recover from. look at Madison, Social circle, Monroe that did or are in the process of updating their street and are bring more business. So I say more with the time or die like the ghost towns winder will be.
A few reasons I do not go to Winder: the streets are a bumpy mess, the parking is dangerous, the shops close at 5pm, shops are closed early on Saturdays and nothing is open on Sunday, the food has gotten really lousy at the shops and the whole area looks run down. There is no charm that draws me to go there but alot that keeps me away. And frankly it scares me to go anywhere inbetween the Post Office and Ingles.
$850,000? Are you serious? Someone wants to spend nearly a million dollars to 'beautify' downtown Winder? NOT WITH MY TAX MONEY!
The only smart thing Winder ever did was build the underpass 20 odd years ago and it doesn't even have a turn lane!
Nothing will make any difference as long as traffic is as big a problem as it is now. No amount of money and no amount of lipstick on the Winder pig of downtown will make a bit of difference so let's quit beating this dead horse.