That Same Old Envisioning

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IMG_0297One year ago, May 2, 2012: Today I attended the “Courthouse Crew Relay For Life” team last Friday held on the Courthouse lawn. I must comment that I am always impressed with how much money “Relay For Life” raises in Paulding. The luncheon had great attendance. I sat at a table with some good friends and enjoyed some good conversation and a delicious lunch. As I sat looking at the well maintained Courthouse and the surrounding lawn with the trees and landscaping, a sudden sense of pride came over me. As I looked at the view around the square from my vantage point, discounting the empty retail space and lack of building maintenance, and the brick pile, that sense of pride came over me again, the view I was seeing was coming from an envisioning, a mental vision of what once was and what now could be. The views of the architecture of the old buildings were impressive, you have to look closely at the architectural details to appreciate them and look beyond the needed maintenance of some of the buildings, imagine what they could be. I had conjured up this mental vision of what this downtown area could look like with some serious community pride, effort and support to create an environment to sustain, attract and support local retail businesses. The vision I had conjured up was that of little specialty shops, maybe a sidewalk cafe – might as well have what I want since it was my vision – with nicely maintained buildings, some restored to the original period decor, with street and sidewalk improvements with plantings. Lots of people walking, talking, shopping, just enjoying their surroundings, you know that quality of life thing. You need to go, today not tomorrow, to the courthouse lawn and sit for a few minutes and look at what a great opportunity we have, see if you see what I envisioned. Allow your mind to formulate a vision of what this town could be. Seriously, if we build a nice community they will come. Let’s start today with a commitment to work together to create a vision and see that vision through to fruition

.Today, May 12, 2013

I attended a noon luncheon, BBQ, sponsored by “Courthouse Crew Relay For Life”.  I had concerns about the weather, it was overcast and breezy – although it looked like it could rain anytime soon, the weather forecast was for thunderstorms to start around 4:00 PM in the afternoon.  We were there shortly before noon and it didn’t look  like many people were showing up, however as time past a small but steady flow of people developed. I hope they reach their fund raising goal. I sat at a table with some good friends and enjoyed some good conversation and a delicious lunch. As I sat looking at the well maintained Courthouse and the surrounding lawn with the trees and landscaping, a sudden sense of pride came over me. As I looked at the view around the square from my vantage point, discounting the empty retail space and lack of building maintenance, and the brick pile, that sense of pride came over me again, the view I was seeing was coming from an envisioning, a mental vision of what once was and what now could be. The views of the architecture of the old buildings were impressive, you have to look closely at the architectural details to appreciate them and look beyond the needed maintenance of some of the buildings, imagine what they could be. I had conjured up this mental vision of what this downtown area could look like with some serious community pride, effort and support to create an environment to sustain, attract and support local retail businesses. The vision I had conjured up was that of little specialty shops, maybe a sidewalk cafe – might as well have what I want since it was my vision – with nicely maintained buildings, some restored to the original period decor, with street and sidewalk improvements with plantings. Lots of people walking, talking, shopping, just enjoying their surroundings, you know that quality of life thing. You need to go, today not tomorrow, to the courthouse lawn and sit for a few minutes and look at what a great opportunity we have, see if you see what I envisioned. Allow your mind to formulate a vision of what this town could be. Seriously, if we build a nice community they will come. Let’s start today with a commitment to work together to create a vision and see that vision through to fruition. Look at these pictures and list what changes you see from one year ago. We have a real asset in the courthouse and the architecture in the buildings. We must formulate a plan on how to get  the commercial buildings  renovated , structurally and aesthetically,  to improve our town to attract businesses that will create jobs, that will in turn help resolve our loss of population and the ever increasing number of housing units for sale – not good economic indicators.

Many times I’ve  told myself, “Just give up, does anyone else care, am I the only one that cares, surely not.” Then I see the renovation of the Zumba building, the sandstone building that was the Paulding National Bank building,  and now the Old Jail being renovated and repurposed – then I get enthusiastic all over again.  I remember my wife Melinda and I attended meetings over 25  years ago, her more than I, along with a group of  like minded individuals that consisted of  Vera Miles, Louise Miller, and Jim Hooker ( the Paulding contingent) Sue Westendorf  of Napoleon, and Jamie Black of Waterville, and many others,  that established the “Fort to Port (US 24 Improvements)”  initiative. – Voila, took a few years, but there it is now. Another instance was probably over three years ago Ron Lane contacted Melinda about the Certified property knowing we had talked to him over 10 years ago, or when he was Commissioner about finding resources for money for cleaning up the property and putting in  a farmers market/green space on the property.  On a mostly monthly basis Ron, Melinda and Nancy Fessel met and then they were joined by Mayor White, the Village Administrator Harry Wiebe and Village Solicitor Mike Jones. The result of that group’s efforts are now being realized. And I can add that the park hopefully, as I’ve said, will act as a catalyst to create an environment to attract and retain businesses to the downtown and Paulding in general. These types of community based initiatives have  proven to be effective.  We need a group of like minded individuals with a common goal  to form a community based initiative for community improvement and development, of course some projects will require political advocacy since the village and county have the tool chest (legislative ability) to accomplish certain aspects. There are some financial funds, both private and public, available if requirements are met.

I just feel like a potter with a big mound of clay that I just want to form into something beautiful, but have no potter’s wheel to accomplish the task.

Stay tuned for more commentary on “How do we improve our community and quality of life”.

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