City should plan for more specific, immediate projects

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council and Mayor Jim Newberry shared their vision for the future of Lexington — Destination 2040 — on Jan. 11, the Kernel reported Monday.

The mayor announced he would like students and other Lexington residents help him work on the plan to improve the city by the year 2040. The project will also include 26 participating organizations that have already pledged to help with the plan, according to the article.

While the spirit of community action is commendable, Lexington needs a plan that is less vague and more tangible and rewarding for those living in the city now.

This project will focus on four aspects: physical growth, economic expansion, cultural creativity and improvements in housing, medical care, education and safety, according to the article. These areas can certainly stand improvements, but to bring actual changes to the city, such broad topics must be narrowed down and goals specified.

The city will hold community discussions and meetings for all citizens on the planning of the project, according to the article. These meetings are a great opportunity for the city to hear its residents’ ideas for making specific plans for improvements.

It is unlikely that Lexington can perfect all of these ideals in 30 years. Consequently, it is important for the city to identify particular areas under each aspect and carry out plans accordingly, such as creating a stronger downtown arts district, improving public transportation or making the city more bike-friendly.

In addition, it would be more appropriate for Newberry and the council to consider projects that the community can get involved in right now.

For those living in Lexington now, it is more rewarding to feel the difference they make in the near future rather than read abstract outlines for the vague, distant future. If residents can see the results of their own efforts and enjoy the fruit of their own labor within the next 10 years, they are more likely to be motivated to take part in these projects instead of plans that will take 30 years.

Immediate results will also help residents, especially college students, to stay in the city and be part of its future.

In fact, there is already such a project in anticipation of the 2010 World Equestrian Games. More bike paths and parks will be created along with a revitalization of the Third Street area. Such initiatives will yield results in the immediate future and are more concrete in their planning, thus making them more effective.

The council and Newberry have the right idea by incorporating students, Lexington citizens and local businesses into the plan for long-term improvement, since no progress would be possible without their support and efforts.

While the council and Newberry should be commended for listening to the voices of the community, they should use those ideas to focus on a more specific goal that will benefit citizens in the short-term as well as the long-term future.