Good day. I was recently asked by Council to provide my vision for the city for this upcoming year. This is the fourth of five planned installments. In this section I start with the pragmatic and then allow myself to explore the romantic.
The pragmatic Tom:
Anyone that has been paying attention to the politics in this city knows that I always try to drive the conversation to the fundamental details of an issue. My personality and interests make it interesting for me to examine spread sheets and do logical exercises. I long for conversations where council examines the costs and benefits. I would be excited about being mayor if we could just have one meeting where we talked out the multiple different directions possible because of our economic choices.
Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that I believe the most important things we can do for the entire City is to make sure we are progressing forward financially to make sure we provide enough resources to our fire and police services.
Specifically, for the South of the City we must make sure we are on a financial path that will allow us to keep our roads free of pot holes and update our water mains as they continue to age. We must have strong infrastructure in the older sections of the City in order for residents to maintain the highest possible value for their homes.
I may be easily pleased but as I have written previously, one of the reasons I was attracted to the City is because it is seven miles and fifteen minutes to work. I appreciate driving on good roads during that trip.
Finally, our parks need to be maintained.
That wasn’t the last finally in the pragmatic discussion because I hope this year we see more of the plan for the development of the future Huber Heights Library. The Library is an exciting project and I look forward to providing my support.
Concluding the pragmatic section, I hope this year we examine our resources to make sure we have a long-term plan to support safety services. Let’s do a five-year plan for the funds that support our infrastructure; a plan that details our expected road and water needs. Let’s strengthen our commitment to improve our parks.
The Romantic Tom:
Of course, I dream of things that would make the city better for me and my family. Things that I believe would attract high-income people to settle here. Fundamentally, these dreams revolve around bike paths. I believe a correctly implemented bike system not only would attract high quality residents but they would also provide the best avenue for economic improvement along the Brandt and Troy Pike corridor. This is obviously a dream that aligns with the rest of the communities in the Miami Valley.
First off. This entire Miami Valley has been developing an integrated Bike System and Huber Heights participation has been noticeably absent. I support bike paths and bike trails in all forms but I believe they have more appeal than just recreational purposes. Here in Huber Heights, with our proximity to Wright Patterson AFB, we have a great opportunity to capitalize on creating a bike system especially valuable because it leads somewhere.
When I really get romantic, I start to broaden my thinking. Not only can bike paths be used for bikes, but if you create them right, you can allow older residents to drive golf carts on them. If we create areas where younger and older residents walk and ride comfortably, it becomes natural for private businesses to locate within that area and create enclaves of commercial development much like town centers. Fishburg Road, between 201 and 202 is perfectly set up to be the foci of our walking, biking, and commercial town center.
The pictures below help you visually the integrated bike path system of my romantic dreams. The dark green lines in the first picture represent the most important paths in order to support the most economic benefit for our residents. The lighter green lines represent important supporting paths. The yellow lines outline an entire area within the 202 / 201 corridor where I envision bike paths for main thorough fairs like Fishburg, Chambersburg and Powell roads and golf cart friendly rules on the side roads that lead into the main thoroughfares.
I believe that if the 8 foot bike path planned for the East side of Chambersburg Road were complete today, those houses along Chambersburg, Artesian Way, and the Evergreen Woods development would be worth 20% more than they are today. That path is an easy connect to WPAFB Area A and the Active Duty and Civilian personnel that work there are highly likely to have a romantic view of riding their bikes to work. They have the money and resources to pay for their dreams and bringing in more of their values and children into our community would benefit the whole city.
Bellfontaine Rd would be the easiest road to include within any Huber Heights bike path plan. It is a much more natural fit to apply the drawings of what the Brandt Pike Revitalization committee suggests for "traffic calming" to Bellfontaine Rd where it will promote economic development, than it does to apply them to Brandt Pike where the primary effect will be to increase commute times for those of us that use that road to get to work. Improve Bellfontaine and create a bike path that ties into the Chambersburg bike path and the Oaks, Callamere Farms and Heather Way communities all share in that 20% increase in home values. In fact, just those two paths with their natural ties to Center Point 70 and WPAFB makes every house East of Brandt Pike Boulevard a prime candidate to be part of a residential real-estate boom.
Turning internal it is not hard to imagine the area bounded by the yellow lines as a great big golf cart community. If you are having trouble visioning it from that picture, look at the second picture where the primary bike paths are shown in red and the supporting paths in pink. Look at all that potential “walk in” business for businesses located on Brandt and Old Troy bike. The best part of a golf cart community that feeds into the businesses on the main thorough fares is that the main thorough fares can still be designed for their primary purpose of getting people to and from work.
We absolutely need to get away from this discussion of “traffic calming” Brandt Pike Boulevard. Traffic Calming is another way of saying create traffic jams so that those of us that are proud we live in a city that is seven miles and fifteen minutes to work will be more likely to stop and shop at business located along the road. Certainly, the bike/golf cart plan that promises significant economic and standard of living improvements in my romantic vision of the City would benefit from a well-designed tie in to Brandt Pike. But my dreams do not include adding another fifteen minutes onto my commute to work.
It is important to realize to that spending our infrastructure dollars on developing a bike path and golf cart community fosters private businesses that rely on market driven forces to enter our community. This is a much more natural way to ensure success than if certain government officials try to pick winners and losers.
I do have romantic dreams about where we can go as a community and I love to talk about them. I definitely wish we had more commitment to take advantage of the bike system that practically every other community supports. This upcoming year we will be improving a section of Fishburg Road west of Old Troy Pike. It makes perfectly good sense to have a safe area running by Wiesenborn Middle school. It makes even more sense because eventually the city will have to improve that entire stretch of road. That stretch of road runs directly into the Miami Valley Bike system. I hope this year when we make those improvements we make them with a long-term strategy which aligns us with our neighbors and the region.
Though I do have romantic dreams I end this sections back as a pragmatist. The first thing we must do to strengthen Huber Heights is to make sure we are financially set for the fundamentals; Police, Fire, Streets and Parks.
Have a good day and dream big.
Read the other essays in this series : Mayor's Vision - Part .2 Mayor's Vision - Part .4 - What makes me tick? Mayor's Vision: North of Taylorsville Road