A healthy city recognizes the value in active living and provides opportunities for physical activity for all its citizens, including its seniors. “Aging in place” refers to the opportunity for older citizens to live out their lives either in the home they’ve known, or within their familiar neighborhood where they can lead a life of reasonable independence.
A complete and well-linked bicycle network is has value on several fronts. While automobile use should dominate regional travel for the foreseeable future, interest in – and demand for – cycling options has been on the rise. A recent example is the popularity of the new Zagster bike share network in Downtown Huntsville. By recognizing and accommodating this demand, some pressure can be taken off the traffic network, whether through alternative commuting or simply the reduction in local auto trips.
Developing and supporting entrepreneurship is vital to maintaining a culture of innovation and to creating a unique identity for the community. The Huntsville metro has historically been very successful at attracting industry to North Alabama, and the last half decade has seen even more of that success. A sustainable and resilient economy has that industrial growth as a hallmark; equally important, however, is its ability to “grow local talent”.
An important aspect of any project, but particularly of planning and governance, is communication. By ensuring that all groups that might be party to an issue have the opportunity to share their perspectives, consensus is developed and a better project or policy is most often the result. In many cities, community associations and business associations can fill that role. They can provide a consistent and clear voice for areas within the city, particularly those that have shared issues, goals or concerns. They can provide a link to their representation that can make citizen engagement more effective.
A complete street is a road that is designed with all users in mind, a street that moves people, not just cars. There is no one kind of complete street; it is less a type, and more of an approach. The idea is to get as much as we can out of the streets we build by looking at:
- Where they go to, and where they pass through
- What places they connect
- Who uses them
- How they are developed
Much of the discussion around infrastructure focuses on what we typically think of as the backbones of cities: roads, power, water, sewer, etc. But in the 21st century, it is likely that the importance of all of those traditional concerns fall in behind the preeminence of the new infrastructure: data.
For a community that is interested in addressing aesthetic concerns, Design Guidelines are a common tool. Design Guidelines can be built into zoning, or can overlay existing zoning, and they can address everything from how a building faces the street to what colors and materials can be used on it. The scope of the guidelines can be tailored to suit the goals of a specific community, corridor or neighborhood; to that end, they should be initiated by the community affected as part of a public discussion with the City.
An important pillar of growth is economic development: How we diversify our economy, how we support local entrepreneurs, how we achieve equity throughout the community, how we improve wages across the income scale, etc. The following goals and strategies (expressed as policies and projects) will help guide future economic development efforts and assist in the realization of the vision expressed within the broader BIG picture process.
The key to a sound economic base is diversity. It helps to ensure consistency and stability in the face of fluctuations in the economy. The key to sustainable development is a diversity of goods and services to appeal to the widest customer base feasible. It is critically important to expand the types and sizes of businesses in the City in an effort to achieve long-term sustainability.
Through the work of groups like Energy Huntsville, our community can become a hub for research, design and development of new energy technologies and products. Our tech-oriented workforce and our existing industries can be leveraged to make a name for ourselves on the global energy stage.