Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

6th and Beltline

Posted by alalto on July 31, 2011


I apologize for how long it’s taken me to post about this.  Either way, here’s my take on the new development at 6th and Beltline.

Below is an excerpt from the Decatur Development Map, which you should take a look at😉

Pay attention to the numbers and colors, they’ll help you figure out what’s going on.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Red means “Expected; awaiting construction”
Blue means “Completed”
Purple means “Proposed”

1) Shopping center, supposedly anchored by Kohl’s (they haven’t released the anchor yet, but it’s generally believed to be Kohl’s). 80,000 to 110,000 sqft.

2) Olive Garden: Currently occupied by Lynn Layton Cadillac. Lynn Layton Cadillac will move across 6th Ave (US 31) (the large road that runs north south). After Cadillac moves across 6th Ave, three takes place.

3) Lynn Layton Nissan and Cadillac move in together. Nissan will be remodeled once Cadillac moves over.

4) Kroger intends to build a fuel center in front of its building. At this moment, we don’t know where on that property it will be built.

5) New tenants have been announced for the Crossings of Decatur (anchored by Target) as:
– Moe’s Southwest Grill
– Gigi’s Cupcakes
– Shoe Show
– The Children’s’ Place

6) Bender’s Gym: A 33,000 sqft, $3.5 Million facility.

There’s also another development that I neglected to label on the map. The orange box immediately to the right of #2 (Olive Garden) is a Verizon Store that is currently under construction.

7) This is some proposed development spot. They didn’t really say anything about anyone looking at, simply that it was “prime real estate.”

Here’s the deal.

Most of this I expect to happen.  The city will benefit through increased tax revenue, substantially.  However, traffic is going to get bad.  The city plans improvements to the Beltline/Veterans Dr intersection, and there will be a light placed in front of the Kohl’s shopping center.

Eventually something is gonna have to give, and I don’t think we can expect anything to happen until the widening of the Beltline on the SE end.  Even with that widening, you still have the problems on 6th Ave and AL 67 east of US 31.  What we consider moderate traffic during the day (non rush hour times), can/will quickly grow into heavy.  It seems quite short-sighted of the city to only consider slight intersection improvements.

What else can we expect?  Sales tax produce is going to increase.  I don’t mean from the stores that are planned for construction, I’m talking about all over town.  Folks in Lawrence, Morgan, and northern Cullman Counties will have less of a reason to drive to Huntsville now, since Decatur is closer and will be more able to satisfy their shopping needs.  So, look for more traffic ALL OVER town.

As for when all of this will be completed, there’s no telling.  If I had to guess, I’d say mid 2013 would be the latest.  But, we all know how things progress in this city…

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Development Map

Posted by alalto on July 26, 2011


Check out the updates to the Decatur Development Map!

We’re now on Tumblr!  Still under construction, but you can go ahead and follow us!  It’s our Decatur Development Blumblr!

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Stratford Doctors Offices

Posted by alalto on July 24, 2011


You might remember a long time ago that there was a proposal for the corner of Stratford Road SE, and 6th Ave SE for some office buildings. Well, according to the “Building Permits” listed in the DecaturDaily today, those offices are finally about to be built. It’s been probably 3 or 4 years, but they’re about to be constructed by Fite for about $650,000. It’s about time…

I hope to have another post soon about the activity at 6th Ave/The Beltline.

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What’s With All The New Development?

Posted by alalto on July 20, 2011


Maybe you’ve noticed, Decatur’s been kinda popular within the past month or two when it comes to job announcements and retail developments.

Why?

If you asked this question to my face, I’d tell you, “Who cares?”  BUT, since this is a development blog…

Basically, folks, the economy is recovering and we’re ahead of the curve.  Well, really, all of the Tennessee Valley is ahead of the curve.  Huntsville has seen a massive tidal wave of new residential developments in downtown (by Alabama standards), Madison has started construction on a development that will be almost identical to “The Crossings of Decatur,” here we’ve had announcements of an Olive Garden and new shopping center (supposedly including Kohls); and this could all be added to by an Audi announcement (everyone hope and pray).

All of these developments make me ask, “What are we doing in the way of planning to cope with the potential outcomes of these announcements?

The City of Huntsville has set out a great plan for communities surrounding a potential Audi plant in Huntsville annexed Limestone County.  You can read about it here in the Huntsville Development News.

The plan includes village centers, planned residential areas, and probably the first function grid systems since the early 20th century.  Why are grids important?  City’s like Atlanta don’t really have them, so you can guess how they might impact future growth.

Anyways, the effort to mitigate traffic and sprawl problems from these developments has shown promise, but more needs to be done.  I know, I’m always saying that more needs to be done.  It’s true though, The South has never really been at the forefront of planning for its future.  However, some of our cities have really been making a good effort to plan for their future (Huntsville, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa have been doing the best so far).  There’s no reason why we can’t join the ranks.  It’s time that we make the efforts of the “Downtown Decatur Redevelopment Authority” an official part of the city planning department.

I’m happy that within the past month we’ve had two announcements that will add over 300 jobs to the market, but I want to be sure that the people that move here to take those jobs will be building homes in a way that compliments the residents that already reside here.

ANYWAYS, back to the original reason for this post.  Why the developments are here.

1)  North Alabama has a very diverse economy.  Decatur is the manufacturing anchor, while Huntsville is the tech anchor, so our region easily recovers from a weak economy.

2)  Morgan County had very little damage from the April tornadoes, and zero deaths.

3)  We have a skilled workforce to draw from.  Any industry can set up in our town and expect to have applicants that have specialties from robotics to assembly lines.

How will all of this affect us?

I know many of us are wondering how this will affect our own pockets and patience.  Basically, you’re going to see A LOT more traffic around the 6th/Beltline intersection.

What will that lead to?  I think you’ll start to see leaders thinking about widening nearby roads like Veterans Drive as citizens attempt to take alternate routes.  Additionally, you’ll see more traffic along AL 20/ALT 72, but the newly widened Beltline should help tremendously.

 

All in all, the affect shouldn’t be that huge in how much it messes with your patience.  BUT, I think you’ll start to notice that you’re traveling to Huntsville less and less.  After Academy was built, I think that kept nearly 175,000 people from making thousands of trips to Huntsville because they could now shop for pretty much anything they needed in Decatur.  After these new developments, we’ll see more of that, which really helps our school budgets and city coffers.

It’s all good people, embrace it😉

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High End Apartments for Young Professionals?

Posted by alalto on July 7, 2011


The Daily recently did an article about how the city is attempting to attract a developer that will construct some upper class apartments in order to attract young professionals that work in the city.

While I believe that the effort is a good one, and I agree that we need to be working harder to keep our young professionals from living outside our city, I’m not sure how well the city’s idea would work.

Why?

Put bluntly, Decatur doesn’t have good nightlife.  Retaining these young professionals is all fine and dandy, but they have to have something to do, right?  We have some good restaurants, and downtown is FINALLY starting to pick up as far as night business goes.  BUT, more has to happen before we can truly have something that these 20 somethings desire.  I should know, I’m 22, as of today of course.  It’s my birthday😉

Anyways, if this apartment complex idea is to be effective, it has to be constructed in or near downtown.  Why?  Because young people are more and more trying to get away from driving EVERYWHERE.  Our 20 somethings that have grown up in Decatur may not be so open to walking everywhere because of our car based layout, but young professionals that have attended schools like Alabama, Auburn, Vandy, or Ohio State have been using public transit for years.  I remember when I first got to Alabama, I never thought I’d use the buses, but they turned out to be an invaluable asset in the mornings…  So, since we cannot at present provide adequate public transit, we need to be able to provide a walkable community.

Bottom line is that our city needs to start working constructing walkable communities.  I was very happy with how they installed sidewalks along Sandlin Rd, and the results have been great.  There’s been much more foot traffic.  So, we need to replicate that, especially along 6th Ave.  That street is aging and needs something to bring it back.

So, all in all, the city’s idea for a high end apartment complex is a good one.  BUT, they need to be careful on which area they’re interested in for this project or else it will never succeed.

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Driving Decatur To The Future – Keys To Success: Industrial Recruitment

Posted by alalto on January 25, 2011


Don’t forget to follow us on twitter! @DecaturBlog

Also, don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!  Decatur Development Blog

So, did anyone like the entertaining-ish links?  If you did, leave a comment.  I think I’m just gonna stick with linking to Wikipedia pages and informative stuff like that.

So!  Industrial Recruitment (I’ll post the tourism section in a later post)

This is something that Decatur seems to do well on, but somehow we still see our city lagging behind in the expansion that we should be expecting.

Question: Why do I say expecting?

Answer: Because I believe Decatur has many attributes that other cities our size cannot begin to brag about:

  1. Airport
  2. River
  3. Rail
  4. Interstate
  5. Low cost of business
  6. Access to a highly educated work force
  7. A city willing to help with funding
  8. Large amounts of space
  9. A lot of flat land
  10. Lower presence of unions

Question Gorgonn is asking: What does this have to do with anything, how on earth does this give us an edge?

Answer: I thin we all know that the presence of ANY of these qualities weighs in a city’s favor when attracting industry.  HOWEVER, the average city like our’s in the USA with 45,000 to 75,000 people and a metro of 150,000 to 200,000 people can only usually offer 5 or 6 of these attributes.  A fortunate city would be able to brag about 7 of them.

You would think this gives us an enormous edge right?  Well, that is right, but it’s obviously not paying off.  The reason why is because Decatur is suffering from a feeling of small town identity.  Many citizens of our fair city believe us to be nothing more than a “bedroom community” of Huntsville which is entirely unfounded.

It’s a fact, we live in the shadow of Huntsville, but only because we allow ourselves to.  You’re probably wondering why I find this to be something that is optional.  The truth is, a city’s identity is only what its own citizens make it.  We can choose to live and thrive in our city, or we can choose to live in Decatur and thrive in Huntsville.  I’ll tell you now that the first option is much better.

Am I saying that our relationship with Huntsville is one that should be severed?  Not at all, I rather thing that it is something that should be encouraged and nurtured.  However, we cannot allow ourselves to lose our identity and switch our allegiances.  You want examples?  Here they are:

  1. Fort Worth and Dallas – Do you consider Fort Worth to be a bedroom community of Dallas?  If you’re smart, you’d probably say no.  The relationship between Fort Worth is such that while these two cities are inseparably bound, they are not one cultural entity.  I promise you that if you ever ask someone (who happens to be from Fort Worth) where they are from, they’ll say Fort Worth, not Dallas.  This is the best example of what our relationship with Huntsville should be.  Like Fort Worth and Dallas, we should resist the urge to become a single cultural mass while also embracing our relationship in a way that can only improve both of our chances of attracting projects and development that enhance the quality of our communities.
  1. Minneapolis / St. Paul – This example is not as good of one as the previous.  Why?  Because the city centers are almost literally right across the Mississippi River form each other.  While these two have not maintained the difference between their cultural identities in the way I would prefer us to, they have still successfully used their relationship to make stronger cases for new business and projects.
  2. Greenville – SpartanburgThis is probably the second best example you can ask for after DFW.  These cities are separated by 20-30 miles of I-85 in South Carolina and have had EXTREME success in using their relationship and combined qualities to attract numerous industrial projects that have lead to an increased quality of life and tax base.  You have probably heard our city leaders talk about emulating Greenville, SC many times because Greenville is the same size.  While the CITY of Greenville is about the same size as Decatur, its metro area is home to about 3.5 times more people than Decatur’s.  However, there are still lessons to be learned from the relationship between Spartanburg (the Decatur in this relationship) and Greenville (the Huntsville in this relationship).

You’re probably wondering, why does all of this matter?  What does this have to do with bringing in new industry and business?  This has everything to do with it.  Here are some reasons why municipal relationships and pride matter to industry and business:

  1. Let’s face it, Decatur is more blue collar, and that’s OK.  Huntsville is white collar, and that’s OK too.  The fact that we have to major cities within 20 miles of eachother that have large workforces of both blue and white collar workers is an asset.  It means we’re capable of attracting a multitude of different industries.  Anything from rocket manufacturers to the run of the mill steel mill.  Taking advantage of this relationship and asset is just another check in our column when an industry is considering our area.
  2. How does pride matter?  Believe it or not, industries like to know that you care about your community.  They figure that if Gorgonn the screw driver operator doesn’t enjoy living in a town like Decatur, he/she obviously isn’t going to enjoy screwing screws and will thus screw screws rather poorly.  What does this result in?  A product that probably functions in the same manner that Gorgonn believes his/her community does… like crap.

What do I think our leaders should do?

It’s simple really, they need to go after a more diverse group of industries.  I believe progress has been made in the establishment of the new industrial park in Hartselle along I-65 (Morgan Center Business Park).  HOWEVER, why don’t we hear of our leaders traveling to meet with leaders of companies that are looking to expand and could potentially do so in Decatur?  We’ve seen them travel to Greenville, SC to examine the progress they have made on their downtown, and while I believe that has been a productive trip, I think they need to start looking at business recruitment.

The fact is, we can provide any industrial project the right amount of space, utilities, and transportation networks that they need to be successful.  Unlike the Rust Belt, or infrastructure isn’t withering away and crashing under the pressure of being overcapacity.  Many leaders of successful cities travel and act as lobbyists for their towns, forming the relationships necessary to recruit industry.  We see them traveling to China, Germany, Korea, and other places with companies that have deep interests in expanding manufacturing and research into the Americas.  The Chinese in particular value the relationships that already have with American cities and states when deciding where to build a new plant.

In Bob Riley’s administration, there were numerous trips to various foreign countries for the purpose of economic development.  They’ve been very successful.  Our city needs to get involved in these trips, and have at least some representative among the delegation that at least lets corporate leadership in other countries know that our city exists.

Full Circle

This leads me back to near where I began.  Decatur and Huntsville have got to work together on this.  A win for one of us is a win for the other as well.  We’ve seen Birmingham and Tuscaloosa work together to land Mercedes and the same process needs to be replicated.  A company can set up shop in Huntsville, but we all know that every single employee won’t be living and/or shopping in Huntsville.  Some will live in Huntsville (most probably), and some will live in Madison, Athens, and Decatur.

Right now, we’re competing, and that needs to change.  In a usual competition, an entity wins something that the others didn’t, and that’s not the case here.  If Madison wins a project, the benefits bleed over into Huntsville, Decatur, and Athens.  You get the point.

Now, go email your councilmen or something…


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Driving Decatur to the Future – Keys to Success: Transportation

Posted by alalto on January 21, 2011


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BTW, I’m trying something new.  I’ve included lots and lots of links to various pictures and pages that might help you to better understand these topics.  I hope you enjoy, and maybe laugh a little along the way.  Thanx!

Transportation

Transportation is absolutely ESSENTIAL to the vitality of our regions as we grow into the future.  As our population continues to grow, our industries continue to expand, and our tourism attributes continue to grow in popularity our infrastructure MUST be able to cope.  This is not one of those “I’d like to have it,” details, it’s a “MUST HAVE.”

Why Gorgonn Will Always Be Wrong About This

We all acknowledge the level of stupidity that Gorgonn possesses.  By the way, if you don’t know who “Gorgonn” is, please refer to the post I published on January 16th, 2011.  We constantly hear Gorgonn whining that transportation expansion only leads to pollution, traffic, and commutes.  I think we can all agree that in some ways, Gorgonn could be correct, after all someone had to come up with the tangled web of roads in suburban Atlanta

Anyways, if done incorrectly and not planned properly, YES, roads can lead to even more congestion, pollution, and longer commutes.  This is all something that people hate about an expanding city.  The good thing is, there are ways to accomplish the improvement of our infrastructure with out causing massive Gorgonnathon in the form of congestion.

There are certain things that need to be accomplished, and I am certain will do nothing but improve traffic.  Here’s my list:

  1. Designate US ALT 72/AL 20 controlled access on the Northside (the northern reaches of the city limits in Limestone County).
  2. Begin to examine the construction of overpasses on Beltline Road.
  3. Examine safety concerns along 6th Avenue.
  4. Adopt a “Complete Streets” initiative.
  5. Find ways to improve mass transit.

Each of these 5 points has the potential to improve traffic and reduce headaches.  Gorgonn will deny that any of these would work, I do not lie.

Designation of US ALT 72/AL 20 (Northside) as Controlled Access

This is something that the planning commission is currently considering.  I believe they will eventually adopt this and the long process of completely remaking the road network on the Northside will begin.

This is one of the more trans-formative initiatives.  With this, there is the potential for massive economic investment and population growth.   The fact that we haven’t yet seen some type of development on the Northside is something that still amazes me.  If Bass Pro eventually sets up shop over there, which they still seem intent on doing, I think you can count on a ridiculous amount of growth following it’s construction.

How does this help traffic?  I think we all know that.  Gorgonn would say that it doesn’t, but I seriously doubt that Gorgonn has sat through rush hour traffic on that route.  Declaring this route controlled access basically streamlines the process of getting to the bridges after work on weekdays.  Will it help you get through that darn traffic light once you cross the river?  No, but it will help you get there more quickly, which still means that you cut valuable time out of your commute.

Decatur Planning Commission has approved this plan, but the city council still has to approve it as an ordinance before it can have any effect.  I’m sure the council will approve it, not too worried.  But, this could take some time to implement.

Begin to examine the construction of overpasses on Beltline Road

I’m not talking about an all out Memorial Parkway-ing of the Beltline, no.  I’m speaking about adding overpasses and service roads (like the ones on Memorial Parkway) at certain points along the road where high traffic occurs.  So, basically one, two, maybe three intersections. 

Which intersections?  I say Danville Road, US ALT 72/AL 20, and Spring Avenue.  I leave out 6th Avenue because I think it would cost way too much due to all of the businesses and stuff that would have to be relocated to accomplish this.  Basically, it’d be a huge pain in the butt.  It’d be kinda like trying to build a massive world-class hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea… 

Examine Safety Concerns Along 6th Avenue

What do I mean by this?  Have you ever noticed that all too often the road itself it higher than the curb that is meant to contain it?  No the road didn’t decide it wanted to get bigger, nor did we just feed it too much and it got fat.  This has been caused by magnificent human ingenuity!

Anyways, what does this mean, this odd road level, relative to the curbs?  Well, it means basically that our sidewalks are functionally obsolete.  Why, we all know that Gorgonn is asking why does this matter?  Who needs sidewalks?  Well, in order to assure that our roads aren’t overrun with cars that are simply driving down the street to McDonalds or other small trips we need them.  Plus, has anyone noticed that the USA has an obesity problem?  Problem is, our city doesn’t facilitate pedestrian movement.

Really though, it all needs to be fixed.  This problem, as simple as it may be, causes problems ranging from sanitation, disease, drainage, safety, to functionality.

In addition, we need more crosswalks.  More crosswalks means more foot traffic for parks and businesses.  At the moment, it is truly dangerous to cross the road in Decatur.  There are only about 4 or 5 crosswalks with signals on 6th Avenue and that needs to change.

Adopt A “Complete Streets” Initiative

This is something that I doubt anyone who’s reading this has heard of.  You can see an adequate example of it along Modaus Road between the Beltline and Danville Road.

Complete Streets insures that all forms of traffic (at least those using feet and tires) are able to utilize a street.  This includes sidewalks, bike lanes, and the usual street features.  This isn’t something that is done in one sweeping project, but rather something that is phased in.  Each time a road is repaved, or maybe repainted, it is redone with Complete Streets in mind.  Usually a city will start out just phasing in the bike lanes and get to the sidewalks later since they’re so much more expensive.

This initiative reduces the need for cars and also increases that foot traffic that I was talking about earlier.

What about Gorgonn?!  Right now, Gorgonn is grumbling in his/her lair about how we don’t need sidewalks or bike lanes, because no one will use them!  The fact is that no one uses the ones we have because we don’t have any!  The ones we do have are inadequate and don’t connect to a larger network that allows them to be functional. A part of these kinds of problems is that people do not connect the dots.  It’s just like your internet, (think of your feet as a wifi receiver on your laptop and sidewalks as the internet), it doesn’t matter if you have a wifi receiver if there’s no internet to connect to.

Find Ways To Improve Mass Transit

This is a biggie.  Many people don’t like transit, and there are valid reasons, but I tend to believe that benefits outweigh costs.

Now, I’m typically someone who doesn’t agree with government providing freebies or running programs that in turn run deficits, but I’m a fan of mass transit.  Why?  Not only because Gorgonn detests mass transit but because it increases mobility, allowing people to get into town and spend money that they normally wouldn’t.  Also, it brings more people into downtown areas, increasing the likelihood that these redevelopments will succeed.  MT also encourages a city to be a regional center for commerce, bringing in people from surrounding areas.

An even more important part of mass transit is the regional aspect.  I’m not talking of Hartselle to Decatur, or Priceville to Decatur, but the larger region.  I’m speaking of connecting the larger regional centers of the Tennessee Valley.  I suggested the idea of creating inter-city bus routes between Decatur and Huntsville once to a city councilman and he simply couldn’t believe that I would support the idea of a program that would encourage Decatur citizens to leave the city and spend all of their cash in Huntsville.  Please…

Has anyone ever heard of the city of Fort Worth?  They face this same issue with Dallas…  yet… they have miles and miles of rail and bus routes connecting the two cities.  I think it’s safe to say that the leaders in Fort Worth are more worried about the relationship and interconnection that the two cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have than immature sales tax jealousy.  BTW, it wasn’t a city councilman that is currently in office.

What I’m trying to say is that citizens in Fort Worth are going to go to Dallas no matter what if Fort Worth doesn’t have what they want.  The same goes for Decatur and Huntsville…  Decatur citizens are going to head to Huntsville no matter what if Decatur doesn’t have what they need.  The question is, are we going to take advantage of this relationship and build on it?  Or are we going to continue pretending that the 20 miles that separate our downtowns might as well be the distance of the Pacific Ocean?

Just pretend for a second that Decatur is Los Angeles, and Huntsville is Tokyo...

Next Topic: Industrial Recruitment and Tourism

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Keep Your Tax Dollars In Alabama

Posted by alalto on January 19, 2011


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Driving Decatur to the Future – The Keys to Success

Posted by alalto on January 16, 2011


Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook!  Decatur Development Blog

Yes, I know, it’s been FOREVER since I posted on this thing. I’m going to have a lot more free time this semester, so I’m hoping I can revive this thing. I know I’ve said this many times, but maybe I can get it done this time.

Keys to Success
I think we can agree that most of us look at our city and wonder why it isn’t succeeding like we know it can. Also, I’m sure we all can agree that some of the things that need to be done/fixed are pretty obvious, and don’t take much imagination to think of.

Let’s start with the obvious.

Self Worth

I’ve noticed that most citizens and officials in Decatur have a low sense of pride in their town. I mean, I agree that Decatur isn’t exactly the most exciting city on the planet, but it’s not like we don’t have anything to be proud of. I’m not going to go through the long list of things that we have to be proud of, because honestly, people should do that on their own and they would probably be surprised at what all we have to offer.

Anyways, we all know “that person” that is constantly calling Decatur a boring town, hick town, lame town, or a dump… We’ll call that person… Gorgonn, King of Stupidity… we all dislike Gorgonn when he/she opens their mouth, cause usually it’s just utter stupidity that spews from it. Hopefully, Gorgonn will hate this blog post.

I really feel like something needs to be done to boost Decatur’s “rep.” Basically, we need to get something going that creates a sense of pride in the community. Unless the city is proud of itself, we will never prosper.

Young People


We need young people, not the kind that are trampling all over grandpa’s lawn while he’s trying to watch wheel of fortune, but the kind that are educated and are looking to start professional careers in or around the city. These kinds of people not only make a greater amount of money over their lifetime, but they bring a certain “vibe” to the city that just can’t be fabricated.

I’ll say that the city is moving closer to attracting more of these young’ns, but more needs to be done. The monthly downtown funtime that occurs on the Friday is a good step, it brings people downtown, and though I haven’t yet visited one of these things, I can only assume that they’re fun.. ish. Like I said, more needs to be done. What can be done to attract more young people?

Young Professionals and their Social Lives

If I’m not mistaken, there is already an organization in town that brings young professionals together. If there is, good, if there isn’t, it needs to be created. I know Huntsville has one, and they’re pretty good things that bring young professionals together to meet, greet, gather, and socialize. They’re great ways to meet new people in a town that’s pretty spread out and sub-urbanized.

Not only do these bring people together to socialize, but they also do great things for the community. Typically, they do volunteer work like cleanups, tutoring, and other things.

Not only do these organizations bring together and maintain young professional populations that increase quality of life, and grow tax bases, they aid in attracting new industries and businesses, typically the ones that employ educated people.

Education

How many times have you talked to Gorgonn and heard the stupid King mention that Decatur is dumb, and has education problems. Being a product of the Decatur City School system, I can tell you that the resources are available for kids to succeed. When I arrived at the University of Alabama, I was prepared, and I wasn’t the kid that was sitting on their bed the night before an exam wondering why he couldn’t understand everything.

What I’m getting at is that Decatur doesn’t have an educator problem, it has an educated problem. What I mean is that the kids that are being taught are where we’re going wrong. Before you call me Gorgonn and say that I’m calling our kids stupid, I’m not, I promise. What I mean to say is that we have a problem with our kids not being inspired to learn, having a lack of aspirations, and just plain not wanting to learn.

There’s a big problem with kids not feeling like they’ll amount to anything, at all. Basically, we’re turning them into more Gorgonns… that isn’t what we want. We need to create a way to inspire our children, get them to be excited about their future, and helping them understand what they’re doing so they’ll want to learn.

I was a kid not too long ago, so I feel I know pretty well what it takes to get kids interested. As adults know, in college, classes get easier as you get into the ones that are more specific to your major, you know, the ones that you’re really interested in. Why can’t we find a way to connect the interest they have in various subjects to the subjects they’re being taught in class?

The problem that most kids don’t know what they wanna be when they get done with school. It doesn’t matter if it’s simply to be a hairdresser, or being a nuclear engineer, we need kids to want to be something so that they’ll know they need to get through school to get there. Even the simplest of jobs takes some kind of education.

I know that we went through career stuff in middle school, but it’s something that need to be injected into their minds early in elementary school. If a kid wants to be an astronaut when they’re in 1st grade, who cares? I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was that age, and what am I in school for now? Geography. Kids’ aspirations change, it’s inevitable.  But, to not inform them about their possible job prospects (even the unlikely ones) at a young age, simply because they’re gonna change what they want to do as they get older or they don’t understand how hard it is to get to these careers, is utterly Gorgonn-like. The fact is, the kids will eventually realize what their capabilities are as they age, and their aspirations will become more and more attainable. Another fact is, we aren’t doing enough to foster the kind of “career imagination” that we should be. The best part about doing this stuff is that it doesn’t have to cost money.  Start this at a younger age and I guarantee you increase the likelihood of their desire to be educated.

Corporate Involvement

Decatur City Schools has a very good relationship with area business and industry, this much is a fact. I remember receiving many benefits and visits from industry representatives in the Decatur area while I was going through school. This needs to be maintained, and expanded. Yes, these are rough economic times for the economy, but they are improving. Besides, an investment in an industry, or business’s, community is also an investment in that industry or business’s vitality and success. This is something that needs to be spread around. Happy and successful children equals happy and more productive parents (who are also employees of these companies).

Higher Education

I think this is an area that all of us know needs to be improved.  Morgan County will not have a single institute of higher education until the North Alabama Center for the Arts open in a few years.  While this is a great development for both downtown and the areas education, we still need to do more.  The nearest legitimate 4 year college is UAHuntsville, which is a good distance from Decatur.  We have education opportunities, but they aren’t convenient.

I’ll say, this is one field that I don’t know much about.  Higher ed politics are very complex and confusing, and rather costly.  Something should be done.  We see branches of Troy University in Dothan, Montgomery, and even Panama City, FL, why can’t we have something similar in Decatur?  Wallace State also has various branches of its school in the state.  I believe this is something that our city leaders need to look into and act upon.  We need someone to meet with leaders of Troy, Wallace State, Alabama, and maybe even UNA to examine the possibilities of opening a campus in Decatur.

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Transportation:  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

 

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Tuesday’s Referendum

Posted by alalto on April 16, 2010


Following Tuesday’s referendum, I have begun to feel optimistic enough start posting again on here. While it’s possible that the Justice Department might not OK the council-manager government, the Sunday alcohol sales approval is enough that it could positively impact the city in numerous ways.

Benefits of Sunday alcohol sales

1) A wider variety of restaurants: It’s a well known fact that there are many restaurants that usually won’t even think about going to a city that doesn’t allow Sunday alcohol sales. True, some will move to cities that don’t allow the sales, but that usually only occurs in large metropolitan areas like Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, and on up.

Now, restaurants that could potential begin looking at Decatur, now that the sale of alcohol is allowed on Sundays, are Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carrabba’s, etc… And now that Longhorn Steakhouse is already establishing itself in Decatur, the research, facts, and demographics have already been looked at and people know the situation. That’s not to say that we’re going to be seeing these things pop up over night, it’s going to take time.

As far as location goes, I’d like to see at least one restaurant locate downtown that is investing in the city because of Sunday sales.

2) Increased tax revenue: In this kind of economic climate, every municipality could benefit from some extra tax dollars. While restaurants take time to develop, increased tax revenues will be felt more readily. I’m not sure how these tax dollars will be allocated, I think the jury is still out on how the city will use the money.

Council-manager

I’ve always been a fan of this form of government, because it cuts out a lot of red tape and creates a more fluid government. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how this will go when the Justice Department looks at it. Billy Jackson sees the whole approval of this switch as an attempt to stomp out the minority vote in the city and I hope that his constituents have taken notice of his willingness to work with other officials in creating a system that works for everyone, not just the majority of Decaturites.

What is possible is that the state legislature could attempt to make an exception for the city in this situation to change the make up of the future council. For example, instead of having three districts, there could be five, allowing for what we currently have in the way of District 1, which gives the minority vote a seat on the council.

I’m hopeful that something good will come of all this, but you can never tell.

Anyways, I expect to post on here more frequently now that I have a bit more time on my hands, and I’m a little more optimistic.

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