One of the "complaints" that I hear consistently is from people who live in the county and work and/or have property - commercial or residential - in the city of Statesboro. They feel they have no say in the governmental affairs of the city, i.e., they cannot vote in city elections even though they have a legitimate and vested interest in the continued success of the city.
As a resident of the city of Statesboro, I hear what you are saying, and feel your frustration. I think most would agree that the continued vibrancy of our county seat is an important key to positive and sustained growth in our county and with our postsecondary institutions.
So, both city and county dwellers, here is your opportunity to have a say in Statesboro's future and to put your "two cents" into the conversation. The city of Statesboro and the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority are working together to develop a "master plan" for downtown. This effort will conclude with a road map for downtown Statesboro to guide planning activities for the next 20 years.
The plan will look at future housing, retail, office, and entertainment opportunities, traffic and transportation, public open space, and streetscape enhancements.
This Thursday at 5:30 there will be an open house and workshop conducted at the Averitt Center to learn more about the plan and planning process; explore current issues, existing conditions, resources and vision; discuss opportunities and constraints; review conceptual planning ideas; facilitate community participation on catalyst projects.
Although this type of exercise can begin to sound like "political speak", this is the real deal. As the city begins to explore all of its options, including public/private initiatives, this plan will drive it.
I have said this more than once, and I am sure you are probably tired of hearing it, but cities no longer drive themselves, in other words, market forces are not a guarantee of a successful, vibrant city. In fact, they have proven in many cases to be the opposite, resulting in blight, and population relocation as the latest census numbers from around the country attest.
It has become quite evident that planning, hard work, and determination by all with a vested interest in an urban area are required for a long-term positive outcome as cities struggle to reinvent themselves, and remain relevant as centers of commerce and housing.
I hate to admit it, but I think Statesboro is potentially one of those cities. It is time to have a plan, and to commit to it. I am glad this important step is being taken, and I urge everyone to come out and add to the conversation.
Many of you may not live in its boundaries, but this is your city, and I know that when people ask you where you are from, the vast majority of you say with great pride - Statesboro. Let's work together to make it the best that it can be.
If you would like to learn more about the workshop, contact Allen Muldrew at the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority. He can be reached at (912) 764-7227. I hope to see you there.