September 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Kaid Benfield invites Lee Epstein to discuss the past and future of small towns in this post. He points to a lot of things we’ve heard before that have caused the decline of small town America—interstate highways, suburbs, resource depletion, the shift of manufacturing jobs overseas, and others. What is important is how to change things. Start by focusing on community assets: natural amenities, good buildings, eds and meds, etc. Change zoning to allow for commercial and mixed uses, and higher density in the areas where it makes the most sense, along transit corridors and close to commercial uses. Work to make communities more walkable and green: narrow and reduce traffic lanes, extend sidewalks, plant street trees or planters, and improve urban parks and streams. Focus on sustainability and sustainable industries rather than trying to do the same old thing, especially trying to attract manufacturing. Too many cities try to bring back the past rather than adapt. It is important for cities to try and develop their heritage, but keep in mind that the future will be different from the past.