AU students help improve region

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 24, 2005

UNIONTOWN – There was a whirlwind of ideas flying through the air of the Uniontown recreation center as residents brainstormed to make a list of what would make the city a better place.

Cheryl Morgan from Auburn University’s Center for Architecture and Urban Studies led the Small Town Design Initiative Citizen Forum between Uniontown citizens and AU architecture thesis students Thursday, Oct. 20, 2005.

“First we are going to make a list of the visual items in Uniontown. The things that you would want to be on a Uniontown postcard,” she said. “Then we’ll come up with a list of things that are good in the community just the way they are.”

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Other lists included things that let you know you are in Uniontown, the history of the town and famous citizens, things that make Uniontown a special place, and a wish list for the city.

The programs has worked with more than 30 small towns across the state, helping them put their ideas for a better city on paper in architectural drawing form.

“These aren’t immediate plans,” Tyler Price, AU thesis student, said. “These plans are for 10 or 20 years down the road.”

“We just draw up the plans and the towns use them to help get grants,” Justin Rogers, another thesis student, added. “It’s easier to get a grant when you have a plan on paper.”

The group’s main focus is to get rid of the eyesores and make the downtown area more attractive and more productive.

As part of the project the group of students will spend the entire weekend studying Uniontown and present their thoughts to the residents Sunday afternoon at the city hall.

“We will be looking for stuff and then we’ll have a lot of drawing to do,” Austin Shoe, thesis student, said. “We are looking for places that work well for what they want to do.”

All the students agree they will be busy the entire weekend.

According to Morgan, DesignAlabama and all the organizations involved believe in the need to help people and areas in the Black Belt.

“In general, it’s a good location to find lost possibilities,” she said. “We believe planning is essential for the community to move forward, be complete and build partnerships. But the first step is to plan.”

Gina Clifford, executive director of DesignAlabama, said the organization agreed to work with Uniontown because it fit the mold of working with small town community.

“We want the Black Belt to be in the forefront,” she said. “And we want to be involved with bringing good architecture to the future Black Belt.”

For more information on getting your town involved, visit or call Clifford at (334) 834-4346.

Uniontown residents are invited to join the group in the basement of the Uniontown City Hall Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. to discuss ideas and more possibilities.