Congratulations to Gardner on receiving an $112,500 grant to update the Main Street Corridor Plan.
Cities, like individuals, should have long range goals and visions; but, just like people, circumstances can change and sometimes it’s hard to stay the course.
Almost 20 years ago, the city’s vision was for a “pedestrian friendly” downtown area, with angle- on-street parking or public lots behind downtown buildings. There would be an interchange at Moonlight and I-35 and an “outer loop” highway connecting K-10 to 175th and on into Missouri.
Plans also envisioned a historic trails theme – with limestone pillars along 56 Hwy from the gateway “River Crossing” park on 175th towards downtown. Bronze images of wagons, bison and pioneers would have lined the trek.
It didn’t happen, but some of the needs are still there.
While parking downtown has decreased, traffic has increased; there are no bronze sculptures or limestone pillars; and the “River Crossing” pond (just west of 175th and Cedar Niles) is a barely visible waterway that’s trash and cattail littered.
The upcoming plan, as was done 20 years ago, will involve a lot of public input, a lot of discussion and consulting. There will be buzzwords like sustainability, green space and stakeholders.
We need an updated plan. It needs to be done.
Two decades ago, no one could have predicted the warehouse boom that’s come to Southern Johnson County, the Edgerton intermodal or the county’s decision not to build an outer loop near 175th.
But the gateways into Gardner could have been landscaped – with or without limestone pillars, a “River Crossing” or bronze sculptures. Downtown parking issues could have been addressed. But, here we are – 20 years later.
The point isn’t a negative one. It isn’t “visioning plans are worthless.”
The point is: plans should be fluid, they should be practical, and they should be followed.
Lofty ideas – without subsequent follow up – is just an exercise in frustration – for not only the city, but residents and businesses as well. We’ve lost track of the number of times some properties have been rezoned: industrial, residential, multi-family. Businesses shut down and roads closed or rerouted. That’s a reputation hard to shake.
Yes, it’s definitely time to do another Main Street Corridor Plan.
And, once completed, it needs to be taken off the shelf, dusted off and followed or revamped.
We don’t need another paperweight in city hall.