Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘Downtown Art District’

Driving Decatur to the Future – The Keys to Success

Posted by alalto on January 16, 2011


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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.

NEXT TOPIC:

Transportation:  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

 

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Lots o’ good news

Posted by alalto on May 19, 2009


There was a lot of good news announced in the Decatur Daily today.

The city council unanimously approved the $800,000 requested by the colleges for the arts campus. The county of course also approved their portion a few days ago. The city donated the money, as well as the property, to the State Board of Education, for the campus.

An interesting note was made that Morgan County is the most populous county in the state that does not have an institution of higher education within its borders.

I’m really happy about this. Not only with this provide for improved access to education in the city, and economic development in downtown, but it will also keep some of the oldest buildings in downtown from being demolished.

Another development with this is that the two year college chancellor is planning to resign. What we saw last time this happened was another slow down on this project. They’re saying that the chancellor stepping down shouldn’t have any effect on the project. And, I’m praying that this is true…

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Various…ness

Posted by alalto on May 14, 2009


So, I’m bored, so I thought I’d just write an entry about some random crap that randomly crosses my mind at random moments….

So, first for some news. From the Daily, Morgan County approved $800,000 for the downtown arts program, and I’m hoping that the city follows through on their end.

Anyways, I was reading in the Daily, again, about how Gadsden has all these downtown events. They attract people and they are actually entertaining. And they are, I’ve been to many of them. My dad’s side of my family is from Gadsden, so I’m very familiar with the town. They do an excellent job of tying the city in with it’s river heritage, and exploit it without destroying the natural beauty.

So, I was thinking that the city already has a lot of things going on downtown. The problem is, no one knows about them, and they are so scattered that no one can choose to spend a night on the town and go to multiple events. They have to decide to go to one or another. We have a lot of resources downtown, we just don’t take advantage of it. The Princess is a HUGE asset to the city, and we don’t even exploit its existence. Sure, we all like it there, but not many of us can say that we attend events there regularly.

And honestly, the Princess is one of the nicest performance venues in the state. There aren’t many cities that have a venue like we do, and we need to use it.

So, I have an idea. Which, I think I might have mentioned in the past on this blog, I’m not quite sure. Here it is:

2nd Avenue and Bank Street. They’re two streets that are just lined with great places to eat and entertain. Now, at the moment, they’re doin alright, but they could be doing so much better. My idea is this, shut down 2nd Avenue and Bank Street to vehicle traffic and only allow foot traffic. To give a better example, Beale Street in Memphis, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Of course, we could never dream of being as popular with this as Bourbon Street. But, I think that this could be a huge success.

The city wants to attract young professionals to the city. Young people that are looking to live somewhere that is fun, has a great quality of life, a lot of cultural diversity, and somewhere that they can themselves contribute to. These people come here, settle down, have kids, and contribute greatly to the economy. Possibly the best example of this type of growth is Austin, Texas, which uses the University of Texas to attract young professionals.

To get back to my idea. You may be pessimistic about this, and I honestly don’t think there is any reason to be. Because, if we get the arts school program downtown like we want to, we can expect the students at the school to participate and get they’re friends and family to come downtown to enjoy everything. College students are some of the best advertisers you could ever ask for. I would know, I’m one of them.

Now, I don’t know all of the things that could impede something like this. So, putting all possible road blocks aside, here’s my plan.

Starting at the southern most portion of downtown, at the Gordon Drive intersection, block of Second Avenue to vehicular traffic (diverting 2nd Ave traffic to 1st Ave). Then, block of 2nd Ave to vehicular traffic at the northern part of the street at the intersection with Lee Street. Of course, if we wanted to start out small, we could shut down 2nd Ave from Johnston Street to Lee Street. I would also suggest closing off Moulton Street between 1st and 2nd Ave.

So, now we have all of 2nd Avenue only open to foot traffic. Obviously, we have places like Maria Bonita open for nightlife eating and stuff. We would have certain performances at Maria Bonita, Princess Theatre, and then some kind of finale performance in the ginormous parking lot at the SW corner of 2nd Ave and Lee Street. So, crowds could like move gradually north along 2nd as the night progresses. A kickoff could start off with a more personal setting at the pocket park with various performances and such. The crowd would then move to eateries around the 2nd Ave/Moulton St. After the eateries, people would move further north to a performance at the Princess or maybe a free performance across the street at the vacant lot, or at the arts school. After these performances, people would then migrate to the finale type event in the parking lot.

See, I think that we can get all these entities to work together and form a schedule that, instead of conflicting with eachother, works together to create a fantastic night of entertainment that could be repeated once every month or so.

So, any opinions?

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Could Calhoun Come Calling????

Posted by alalto on May 12, 2009


So, in today’s Daily, Senator Arthur Orr pitched the requests for the Calhoun downtown campus to the city council. Basically, it just outlined what he believes is needed from the city for the project to move forward. These types of things include the old furniture store on 2nd Ave, the old DU Warehouse and the former Elks’ Lodge building. I’m almost certain that the city will deed these properties to the cause, considering that they’ve pretty much been sitting on these structures, waiting for the moment to hand them over to the college.

The city’s contributions are nearly a check off for the project, and I’m sure the county’s contributions are the same status.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more sure about this project. Finally seems like it’s going to happen. I’m so happy with this project that I can hardly stand it. It will be amazing to see more traffic and economic activity in downtown without taking business away from 6th Avenue and the Beltline.

Other things going on…

I noticed that the intersection of to streets just off Stratford Road SE is being improved. This intersection, that is heavily traveled by cars on their way to Eastwood Elementary in the mornings, and can be quite interesting to drive through with the kind of drainage that exists. Anyways, it’s improving.

Also, the weather monitoring system along Interstate 65 at the Tennessee River bridge is nearly complete, if not complete already. This system is supposed to aid in the notification of conditions along the nearly 2.5 mile long bridge. Which, I’m sure we all know, is quite frightening to drive over during hazardous conditions. If I’m not mistaken, some notification screens, much like the ones along McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, should be in place to notify motorists, but I’m not completely sure about it.

In other news, Lawrence County Schools has decided to consolidate some HS’s in order to save money and such. Lawrence has been hard hit by their shrinking population, so they’ve had to come up with some different type of organization to aid in making the system more…organized.

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I’m back!

Posted by alalto on May 6, 2009


ALSO!  I’ve created a forum on Forumer.com!   So, if y’all feel like it, I’m welcoming anyone who want to join to, well… JOIN!  Haha, anyways, here’s the link: LiveDecatur Forum

I know, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve updated this thing…  And, now that finals are almost over in Tuscaloosa, I hope to get this thing moving again 🙂  Fact is, development in the River City had been moving very slowly for the past few months, but, lately, I’ve been more inspired.   Haha.  Anyways, I hope to be a bit predictable as far as how often I update.

So, let’s go over some stuff that’s been happening.

ACADEMY SPORTS & OUTDOORS

So, the Academy location has started construction along The Beltline, I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve driven through SW lately.  This is yet another example of the strength of our local economy, compared to other cities across the U.S.

BELTLINE WIDENING

The first phase of the widening is finish, and the 2nd phase has begun, though, no visible construction has started.

ARTS CENTER

It was in the Daily yesterday that Calhoun and Athens State have finally come up with plans for an arts school in Downtown Decatur.  This is a very good partnership.  Athens and Decatur need to form better partnerships, because the ones that used to exist have been demolished by the political influence of Huntsville and Madison.  Anyways, I’m very skeptical about this project.  It’s certainly possible, it’s just that I’m expecting an entity to back out, citing the economic state of the country.  All in all, I hope this momentum keeps up.

For now, that’s all I have.  If I think of anything else, I’ll just make another update later.  Right now… time to study!

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Phase 1 of Uptown Art District?

Posted by alalto on August 7, 2008


Ok, so, I was just surfing around the internet. I was just doing some digging to find some development stuff that might now be being told to the public, or advertised as much. So, I stumbled across the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority and I was just clickin around. So, apparently, the Phase 1 of the Uptown Art District is what is going on across 2nd Avenue from the Princess Theatre!!! I’ve been wondering what’s going on over there, and now we finally know! I wonder why this wasn’t released to the public. Hmmm, anyways. It’s just supposed to be an outdoor performance plaza. This is goingt to be a great asset to downtown and the effort to attract funding for the downtown arts district.

Here’s the link to the picture.

Phase 1

Be sure to snoop around some more on that sight. It’s got some pretty cool stuff in it.

Remember, I LOVE me some feedback!

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