I never understood the saying that you have to run to stay even. But now as I look at things in life I not only understand it but believe it.
Nothing is truer than America's cities.
Atlanta is a perfect example of a city that is running very fast to maintain its livability.
The cities in Clayton and Henry counties could take a note of what Atlanta is doing and understand that in today's busy world there isn't any time for bickering or grandstanding. If you are not thinking about what can be done now to make sure the city is a pleasant place to live in five or 10 years then you are missing out on a golden opportunity.
It is no secret that I am a train buff and love them. And thus it should be no secret that I want to see the Macon to Atlanta train start chugging down the tracks daily and stopping in our cities. I want to see people greeting the trains and I want to see some of that nostalgia money start flowing into our city coffers. It could be the first step in running hard to stay even.
Let's look at what Atlanta is doing to be inspired.
The aquarium in downtown Atlanta is spectacular. It draws you into the sea world like nothing else. You not only see the sea creatures, you are engulfed by them. A lot of planning and many millions of dollars went into this spectacular addition to downtown Atlanta. Several of our reporters and photographers were fortunate enough to be invited up to see it last weekend and now people are rushing to get tickets. It will be a draw forever.
The city already has the World of Coke, Underground Atlanta, the CNN tours, a variety of sporting venues, merchandise marts and plenty of places to hold conventions and meetings. It has some spectacular homes around midtown, the wonderful Piedmont Park and botanical gardens next door. It has the Margaret Mitchell House. It has museums and art centers. It has Six Flags and the Water Park.
It has a fine system of public transportation. I live near the Amtrak Station in midtown and if I want to go on vacation and fly out of Hartsfield-Jackson, I walk a half block to the No. 23 bus and catch it to the Arts Center and then board a MARTA train. The train takes me right to the airport. I ride an escalator down and I am right at the outside check-in. You could not get any easier system of getting to the airport. I think MARTA is going to have to face the idea of Atlanta being a big city and start running these trains all night long. But I know that costs money.
Mayor Shirley Franklin, who has garnered deserved praise for her handling of the city, has appointed a four-member committee to decide what to do with the 500 acres at Fort McPherson that is being shut down by the cost-cutting feds.
She is also studying the idea of having street cars come to downtown and midtown Atlanta. One proposal is to run one 12 miles from south of downtown through midtown and all the way out to Lennox Square. A spur might also go from the aquarium over to the MLK Museum. Wow, the nostalgia in me jumps for joy.
I do not agree with some of the city's bar policies. I think if it has a problem it is the problem of people who want things to come together so well that you start micromanaging. That is the case of the bars. The closing policy is stupid for a big city. Why does the city care if the bars ever close? Why does the city make bars sell food on Sundays in order to open on Sundays? The fun of going to big cities is that some things are planned and well thought out, like recreational facilities and good transportation. Some things just happen like a variety of bars and clubs and restaurants. A few thugs at some bars opened fire and forced all bars to close early. The solution is to hunt out the thugs and put them in jail. I have no problem with holding bars accountable for their actions.
Atlanta is not a city without problems. You can within five minutes of city hall on Ponce find all the drugs and drug dealers you want (I don't want any, but would like to get a fast food chicken dinner or hamburger without being surrounded by these crack dealers). There are homeless and there are inconveniences as the city tries to replace old or broken infrastructure. But overall I find getting around the city pretty easy.
I cheer when old warehouses or old schools are turned into condos.
I did not especially like a recent story that questioned if Franklin might be the city's last black mayor because of the influx of whites moving in from the suburbs.
Well, this presumes that someone with Franklin's record couldn't get elected in a city of 100 percent white people. I am more optimistic about the sophistication of people in Atlanta and I believe they reward success and punish failure.
So look at the success of Atlanta and let's make some decisions in all of our cities that show forethought and planning.
Bob Paslay is editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .