Planning makes nearly perfect

Posted 5/7/21

Cities that build roads without understanding where they will lead eventually become home to a confusing pit of winding, turning bands of concrete that intertwine like a knot of snakes spinning this …

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Planning makes nearly perfect

Posted

Cities that build roads without understanding where they will lead eventually become home to a confusing pit of winding, turning bands of concrete that intertwine like a knot of snakes spinning this way and that.

Cities that issue building permits without imagining how gas stations will fit cozily between a family home and a city park will become a giant strip mall of oddities, each more out of place than the last.

Cities that cement over all the available green space will become dirty and grey - a place to escape rather than embrace.

Thankfully, the city of Gulf Shores was envisioned by a man who seemed to inherently understand these ideas.

A century ago, George C. Meyer constructed a vision for the city. He set aside public lands for future parks, schools and municipal facilities and laid the blueprint for a town that would be welcoming to residents, businesses and visitors. He wanted a place they would all love.

And thankfully, those who came after Meyers have continued his commitment to sound urban planning.

On April 29, at the civic center named in honor of his wife, the City of Gulf Shores again set out to plan for the future of Gulf Shores.

City leaders, inspired by Meyers’ bold beliefs that Gulf Shores could be and would be the best Alabama had to offer, held the first of three meetings to address future plans for parks and recreation, schools and infrastructure.

The city built a similar plan of action a decade ago after the BP Oil Spill. The community developed what leaders called Vision 2025 to address its inadequate schools, insufficient health care and other quality of life needs.

The plan helped set the path forward that saw the city open its own school district and begin construction of a freestanding emergency department and airport control tower, both scheduled to open in 2021.

Now, Vision 2035, which will be born of ideas discussed during the three community meetings, will address the city’s biggest challenge: growth management.

City streets are overwhelmed by visitors. City facilities are busy, crowded or inadequate. Antiquated zoning laws impact quality of life for residents and businesses alike.

None of these issues are an easy fix. None can be mitigated with the swipe of a pen. But if the leadership and citizens of Gulf Shores continue to embrace the notion that planning and vision are the keys to success, the seaside haven will be a legacy that continues to make Meyers proud.