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Thoughts on a New Mayor November 13, 2007

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.
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Today Birmingham got a new mayor–one with limitless energy and ideas. That is wonderful–we certainly need that enthusiasm. I just hope he has the resources and willpower to bring those ideas to life, because people around here *want* exciting things to happen, and one or two empty promises will cause them to give up on him, perhaps permanently.

Now, with that being said, I very, VERY much applaud his idea to sign Boutwell Auditorium over to the Museum of Art so that they can tear it down and expand into that space. Boutwell is not a comfortable place to see a show, and the museum desperately needs more space. (I was surprised to learn in a recent Birmingham News article just how little of its collection the museum can actually display.) Think of the cultural district we would have immediately around Linn Park: expanded museum, library, BJCC, and School of Fine Arts.

While I’m ruminating on the new administration, I’ll toss in a few wishes for Birmingham (to accompany the standard ones of better transit, better regional cooperation, and a better environment for business–particularly new and small businesses):

–I wish a supermarket chain would bite the bullet and locate a store downtown. They have data showing that the population there could support one–plus they should take into account the neighborhoods surrounding downtown that have zero access to a grocery store. Build it, and shoppers will come–I promise–especially if it’s not stocked with just high-end items.

–I wish the downtown/Southside loft/condo developers would diversify their designs and *especially* their prices. I know a lot of people who would love to live downtown (including myself), but have no hope of affording what’s currently available. I have heard of new rental and rent-to-buy options on the market–that’s good–but lower prices now would benefit everyone in the long run by bringing more people downtown permanently (which leads to businesses, a lively street scene, more selling points for the developers, etc.).

–I wish the fund-raising campaigns for the three-parks initiative would be more public. I’ve talked with several people lately who swear up and down that the Railroad Reservation Park will never see the light of day–even though construction has begun on it–and others who have never heard of Red Mountain Park or think it’s something at Vulcan Park. Keep reminding us that this stuff *is* happening, and that will raise the excitement level–and probably contributions as well.

There are also some interesting opinions over at The Terminal concerning what Birmingham’s young professionals think of the state of the city. I have some mixed reactions to their survey answers, but nevertheless, that’s something else the new mayor should be looking at, since it’s a group potentially as energetic and enthusiastic as he is about the city and its future.

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