Thursday, June 11, 2015

Park project sounds like a great idea to us

Christian Davis, Editorial

Generally speaking we've made a point of maintaining a neutral editorial position when it comes to news items that involve the expenditure of public funds. On the issue of developing Central Park in Pincher Creek, including incorporating a water park into the plan, Toni Lucas (co-owner of the Pincher Creek Voice) and I have decided to break that rule.

We think it's a great idea.

We don't have any children here, Toni and I, but we do have grand-nephews, and grand-nieces who visit a lot.  We've talked to a lot of people about the water park proposal over the past few weeks. Those who are raising families here seem to be almost universally in favor of the idea. The biggest debate seems to be over the best location of the water park. Central Park (located to the west of Town Hall) seems to be the favourite, but many have also argued, with some merit to those arguments, for a spot behind the pool. Either way, if it's built they will come.

If a suitable parking solution can be found at Central Park, with other improvements planned aimed at all age groups in our community, Pincher Creek would have a gem of a community gathering space in the heart of our downtown. The downtown business climate would also warm significantly, particularly during the spring, summer, and fall months.

Pincher Creek's downtown has been in a general state of decline for a long time. I've only been here for a decade (Toni grew up here) but it was well into that decline by the time I first saw it. At present there are also a significant number of businesses on or near Main Street doing their utmost to revitalize the core by revitalizing their establishments. There are also a lot of empty spaces just waiting for new ideas to show up.  It's a common theme across the country.  The old downtown Main Streets that survive and thrive have responded to the advent of the big box shopping experience by giving their potential customers reasons beyond commerce to visit.

It's a perfect storm. Add a water park, and some of our tourists will stay another day, instead of just passing on through. That's good for our hotels and restaurants. Our museums and other public facilities will also benefit from "what else is there to do?"  Most importantly, our local families will have an enticing gathering place, suitable for all generations, and our town will be more attractive to new families looking for a new home.

If we want young people in Pincher, we've got to give them places to go and things to do.  We can mourn the decline of the family "these days", or we can give families places to do fun family things.  If we want Main Street to survive and thrive, it's time to give it a boost.

When I decided to move to the Pincher Creek area a decade ago, the potential of this place was obvious to me and a huge factor in that decision.  That potential is still here, and the Central Park/water park plan seems to me to be an excellent stepping stone to realizing that potential.  

If you agree with me, Pincher Creek's Recreation department is looking for letters of support, fast, that they can add to a grant proposal that has to be submitted to the federal government before June 17.  Click here for more information.  If you disagree with me, feel free to do so in person or in the comment section below.

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