Dec 122012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Changing the perception of Greenville’s downtown — to accentuate its reputation as a destination for work, commerce and entertainment — will not succeed without innovative partnerships that share responsibility for delivering improvement. The City Council believes it successfully advanced two such projects with nearly unanimous decisions on Monday night.

Council members’ approval of a parking deck was accompanied by the selection of a site for a long discussed transportation and activity center (formerly known as the intermodal center). While these projects do not assure improvement in that key city district, they do represent the sort of collaborative thinking that should make progress over the long term.

After 12 years of consideration, discussion and work by city staff, the council voted 5-1, with Councilman Max Joyner in opposition, to build a proposed Greenville Transportation and Activity Center in an area bordered by Pitt Street and Bonners Lane, and nearby Dickinson Avenue and 10th Street. It is intended to be a mixed-use development that provides a central clearinghouse for Greenville Area Transit System, Pitt Area Transit System, East Carolina University Transit and Greyhound buses as well as the new Amtrack connector, bicyclists and pedestrians.

The council also made the landmark decision to proceed with construction of a parking deck in the downtown area. Members unanimously approved plans to build the 256-space facility at the intersection of Cotanche and Fourth streets. Ultimately that location was viewed by officials as meeting the city’s needs most effectively while keeping costs low.

While these projects have supporters and detractors, residents should take careful note that both were pursued in concert with a broad swatch of stakeholders. It was objections from East Carolina officials that scuttled plans for the original intermodal center, and consideration of additional alternatives that led to council’s decision to locate it elsewhere. Construction will be funded through a combination of federal, state and local dollars, ensuring a reduced burden on local taxpayers.

A similar approach governed the parking deck, a long sought priority for advocates of downtown revitalization. Though the cost burden rests with the city, officials consulted business stakeholders and other interested parties before making a unanimous decision. Bringing those voices into the discussion raises the hopes that the facility will succeed.

These projects promise to alter downtown, hopefully for the better, though there is no certainty of success. However, by building partnerships and listening to a diversity of voices, the council has raised the prospects for a positive return.

via The Daily Reflector.


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