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Renovate, revitalize and build a senior friendly downtown

Published: 10:11 PM, 10/12/2012 Last updated: 10:15 PM, 10/12/2012
 


Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Dear Editor:

 

I had an occasion to attend a workshop at a recent conference in North Carolina, and they talked about the struggles they had with the revitalization of their downtown. They talked about and showed some photographs of the things they had tried to do to bring foot traffic to their downtown.

They had refaced all the old storefront buildings and built a very nice park in the middle of downtown and yet no one came downtown. After 6 p.m. all the businesses closed up for the day because there was nothing going on, until they took a look at the ever-increasing senior population. They realized that if they lived downtown there would always be foot traffic and the downtown would be revitalized.

They took some of the old buildings and renovated them into senior friendly affordable housing, and the thing that caught my interest was the installation of golf cart paths for the seniors to move around downtown. As I look at downtown Newport, I see that we have more going for us then that town in North Carolina. The challenge before us is a rapidly increasing senior population and our city planners will have to face the challenge hopefully sooner rather than later.

Our town will see a huge increase of older adults in the next few years, and I don't think Newport is prepared to meet the challenge. Our city planners are giving much thought to our younger generation as they should, but our older generations need the same consideration. The silver tsunami is coming and we cannot go over it, we can't go under it and we can't go around it, we will have to meet the challenge and go through it.

Senior housing that is available today is inadequate at best in this county; I can't imagine what it will be like, a few years from now. As I look at downtown Newport and note that we already have available assets like a grocery store, library, pharmacies, churches, city government, mortuaries, a hospital, and post office within a mile and a nice new river walk all the makings to invigorate downtown except for the key element of revitalization  people.

We have a large number of vacant buildings that would be ideal for senior friendly, affordable housing. Have any of our city planners even considered what our senior population could do for downtown Newport? I think renewal begins with people and our senior population can sustain a downtown revitalization if those resources are made available. I challenge all those downtown vacant building owners to step up to the plate and do something positive with your building downtown and consider senior friendly, affordable housing.

 

Carlene Robinson,

Director the Office on Aging

 

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