John Howell Sr. 1/8/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Input invited for improvement of Batesville Square

Owners of downtown Batesville businesses and buildings should take advantage of a meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 15, with the city’s mayor and aldermen and representatives of Batesville Main Street to provide input for the pending downtown renovation.

City officials want to hear discussed ideas on how to best spend the $400,000 in grant funds and city money allocated to improve the Square and the Van Voris business corridor. Now, while the planning is underway is our best chance to learn about the schedule and phases of the project and to influence what the end product will look like. The further a project advances, the harder it becomes to change.

But be prepared: everybody won’t get everything they want. There are just too many divergent interests. The idea is to learn what most people want.

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The downtown “zip lanes” are a good example. Some want them opened; some want the space utilized for parking; some want them to remain closed but for limited use.

The one criteria that aldermen agreed own during their December 18 meeting: the project cannot reduce the number of parking spaces presently available and ideally, it should increase them.

The Square has been a work in progress during most of my lifetime. At times we’ve made mistakes, but the goal has always been to improve the appearance and to facilitate traffic and commerce there.

During the last 20 or 25 years — through the efforts of both city officials and business/building owners the changes there have been positive while creating a symbolic community center and gathering place for our small city, whether for festival or ceremony. This new project is simply an attempt to tweak what we’ve got.

Tuesday night, Jan. 15, will be your chance to share ideas with city leaders.

Starts at 6:30 p.m.

Remember, it’s not “us” versus “them.”
It’s all “us.”