New Albany has been visited by several experts in tourism, community development and related fields over the past year or two.
They all have been knowledgeable and presented good, useful information.
But we may have reached the point of diminishing returns as far as such experts are concerned.
The point is that they all pretty much have said the same things, and we usually know what they are going to say before they begin to speak.
There is a story in this issue of the News Exchange about first impressions visitors to New Albany have as brought by a community development expert. Several years ago one New Albany resident presented a slide show to aldermen that displayed essentially the same points, good and bad. Little had changed since then.
We simply don’t need people to come and advise the same actions over and over if we are not going to listen to them and respond.
We need to do something about it.
Admittedly, some progress is being made and that is good.
The need to more comprehensively and efficiently promote tourism for all the community’s assets is being worked on now.
The UCDA is working on getting wayfaring directional signs, I believe.
But some of the appearance issues have received about as much attention as has stopping parking in the middle of the street.
(I know, some people here think it’s “quaint” but most non-residents think we are real rubes and despite one newspaper statement to the contrary, I don’t believe it is legal to park straddling the yellow line of a state highway.)
The city has a comprehensive plan but does not appear to follow it on a consistent basis. We have a beautification committee but their projects are sporadic as well.
Someone needs to take the comments of Dr. Fratesi (or the other experts) and sit down to make a very specific list of what is needed, prioritize the tasks and determine the costs.
Some landscaping can be done fairly cheaply, although New Albany needs a lot of it. A few days ago about 10,000 seedlings were given away in Tate County by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the DeSoto Soil and Water Conservation District and the county Board of Supervisors so we should be able to get some free ourselves or at least very low cost. And there are several varieties of inexpensive, fast-growing trees available for landscaping and screening.
Cleaning roadsides can be done more or less as a part of day-to-day city operations.
We can be forgiven for not noticing what we see every day, but we also have received more than one wakeup call and know some of the things we need to do.
There may be money available out there to help with improving our image to visitors.
And if worse comes to worst aldermen could (gasp!) impose a small one-time tax to help pay for it. One thing hardly anyone can complain about is New Albany having high taxes since our rate is low and has remained essentially unchanged for about a decade.
One thing all the experts have agreed on is that our community has a lot to offer and has many advantages over other communities. Doing what we need to do will be relatively inexpensive but will reap much vaster rewards in economic growth and quality of life.
J. Lynn West