Don't take lo­cal in­no­va­tion for granted

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM -

I drove down Critz Street on Satur­day look­ing for a big­ger place to live and en­coun­tered the high­ly­con­tro­ver­sial planters spaced out along the street di­vid­ing some por­tions of the road ever so slightly.

To some, the small flowerbeds are noth­ing more than a wel­come ad­di­tion to a charming street, while oth­ers view them as dec­o­ra­tive traf­fic haz­ards shoved down the throat of ev­ery driver pass­ing through the area.

For those who planned them, though, the aim is much more than beau­ti­fi­ca­tion. Rather, the pri­mary pur­pose is to boost safety along the street, and for a SUV driver, nav­i­gat­ing the planters wasn't that bad. There, I said it.

Don't @ me on Twit­ter, or email me try­ing to change my mind, ei­ther. I at­tempted to look at the planters from the per­spec­tive of a wide-eyed tourist, tak­ing in all of my sur­round­ings and not just the pretty houses that line the street.

With the sun beam­ing in a blue sky over­head and each beau­ti­ful­ly­man­i­cured lawn shaded by old trees, the area is like a nice neigh­bor­hood in a ro­man­tic com­edy. But the al­lure was made that much nicer by the ef­forts of one al­der­man - and other city of­fi­cials such as City En­gi­neer Ed­ward Kemp and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Di­rec­tor Buddy San­ders - who are ac­tively putting forth ef­forts to beau­tify the city while mak­ing it safer.

In a com­mu­nity quick to buzz about hot-but­ton is­sues, these ef­forts and their im­pact can go eas­ily over­looked to the ap­a­thetic eye.

Ward 5 Al­der­man Pa­trick Miller, still in his first term on the board, held a town hall meet­ing with con­stituents from the Plan­ta­tion Homes neigh­bor­hood ear­lier this week and the ques­tion even­tu­ally rolled around to feed­back Miller has re­ceived for the ini­tia­tive on Critz Street.

While he has fielded some com­plaints from those pass­ing through the area, he claims to have not re­ceived one neg­a­tive com­ment from the res­i­dents of the street and I, for one, be­lieve it is be­cause the planters add gen­uine value to a street thought­fully crafted with char­ac­ter.

The planters, in my view, rep­re­sent a small, yet cost-ef­fec­tive way to raise the qual­ity of life in our com­mu­nity, even if it is just some plas­tic bins, pot­ting soil and dec­o­ra­tive flow­ers. Safety will ul­ti­mately be im­proved be­cause of these planters, as driv­ers are forced to move with cau­tion and right­fully so, given that it is a quiet neigh­bor­hood street. That tran­quil­ity is some­thing to be val­ued and pre­served, which I think Miller un­der­stood be­fore he rolled out the con­cept.

Even if the idea is ul­ti­mately scrapped and the street goes back to be­ing wide open, Ward 5 res­i­dents should count them­selves

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RYAN PHILLIPS

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