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Smart growth: not new, but still great

SPRINGVILLE ó Donít we all want to live in a community thatís thriving, vibrant and livable? Donít we all want our streets to be clean and passable, our buildings aesthetically pleasant and functional and our community a place we can be proud to call home? I know I do. Thatís what smart growth does, and thatís why Iím in favor of it.

According to www.smartgrowth.org, the website for Smart Growth Online, a Web resource funded by a grant from the United State Environment Protection Agencyís Office of Sustainable Communities, ďWhen communities choose smart growth strategies, they can create new neighborhoods and maintain existing ones that are attractive, convenient, safe and healthy.Ē

Although the smart growth buzzword is new, the concept is anything but. Smart growth includes things like reusing old buildings in new ways; not a revolutionary idea, but one that is happening more and more, as we rediscover the value of classic architecture. Whenever a business moves into an abandoned or decrepit building, as the Springville Center for the Arts did, when it took over the former Baptist church on North Buffalo Street, thatís smart growth.

Smart growth communities also ďfoster design that encourages social, civic and physical activity ... protect the environment while stimulating economic growth [and] create more choices for residents, workers, visitors, children, families, single people and older adults-choices in where to live, how to get around and how to interact with the people around them,Ē according to Smart Growth Online.

We all like choices. Iím a big fan of the programming provided by the Boys & Girls Club, Springville Concord Elder Network, the SCA and our wealth of local organizations, as well as the community-minded feeling things like workshops, fundraisers, classes and activities create. What would it be like to live somewhere that doesnít have these Donít we all want to live in a community thatís thriving, vibrant and livable? Donít we all want our streets to be clean and passable, our buildings aesthetically pleasant and functional and our community a place we can be proud to call home? I know I do. Thatís what smart growth does, and thatís why Iím in favor of it.

Springville has been working on a revised Master Plan for the better part of six months now, working with the TVGA civil engineering consulting firm, landscape architect Joy Kuebler and many others to design streetscapes and landscaping that will make Springville an even more beautiful, economically vibrant and environmentally friendly place to live and work.

This plan may be relatively new, but Springvilleís dedication to what is now termed smart growth is not. Back in the 1990s, Springville was using Community Development Block Grants to install sidewalks and improve the downtown district. The Historic Preservation Commission started in 2006, to help keep the historic flavor of the village intact, and it has worked to do just that, through building and signage planning, ever since.

Whenever we think about the impact a new business, building renovation or other initiative will have on our community and the environment, thatís a form of smart growth. Whenever we work to make where we live a better, more accessible place to do so, thatís smart growth. Whenever we plan an event that brings the community together to support one another, like next weekís Very Merry Main Street, thatís smart growth, too.

Or, as Smart Growth Online put it, ďWhen communities do this kind of planning, they preserve the best of their past, while creating a bright future for generations to come.Ē I canít think of a better way to put it than that, and I know I wouldnít want to spend my days anywhere that didnít have that maxim in mind.

Keep up the good work, Springville. This newspaper editor is rooting for you.


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