York master plan builds on small-town positives

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2005

YORK-The city of York has visions for a bright future. Now, thanks to the Auburn University Center for Architecture and Urban Studies, they also have a plan. Students from the Rural Studios program presented their master plan for citizen’s of York Monday night and most were amazed and the research and detail.

York Mayor Carolyn Mitchell Gosa said seeing the plan laid out before them made everyone eager to get started.

“It is all very exciting,” Gosa said. “We are very excited about what Cheryl Morgan and the Auburn students have been able to do. It is exciting to see all the things they have planned.”

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Cheryl Morgan Professor and Director of the program said they began by finding positive aspects of the city.

“We really felt like there were lots of opportunities,” Morgan said. “They have already built a lot of collateral with the Coleman Center and the festivals that attract people. We felt those were strong and important things to build on.”

The group also looked at strong point surrounding the city to build on, Morgan said. Location was one of the strongest assets.

Morgan said their close proximity to U.S. Highway 80 and Interstate 59-20 was a wonderful way to draw people in. She also felt building off current success stories, such as the recent art movement, could open the door for other possibilities.

“Another thing we began to build ideas on was the notion of in addition to the arts and cultural possibilities to build recreational opportunities,” Morgan said. “That would be a combination of walking, hiking and biking trails and ecotourism for the wetlands. That is just another positive thing to build on.”

North-South trail system along Alabama Highway 17 could someday become a reality and York would be a very important part of this.

“Where those types of things have been put into place they have been very important economic engines for the community,” Morgan said. “They stimulate a lot of commercial possibilities and that is everything from renting bicycles to places to stay overnight. There are lots of possibilities.”

Their first priority, Morgan said, was finding what people want and putting a plan together to bring those things to York.

“When you realize that more and more people are looking for day trips, then you combine that with the idea that there are a whole set of ideas and possibilities,” Morgan said. “That is an exciting piece of the economic puzzle for this area.”

By using eco-tourism, Morgan said the city could establish a sustainable boost to the economy. Unlike factories, eco-tourism will never be outsourced.

Putting these assets to work, Morgan said, creates a solid economy and brighter future for the city and its people.

“It creates a diversity as well as a sustainable potential for a high quality of life for the people who live here,” Morgan said. “It is not just about the visitors, it is about the people who live here every day having good things to do and assets in their community.”

Putting the plan together required door-to-door research and hours of hard work and planning. Gosa said they were extremely grateful for their efforts.

“We can never repay them for what they have done for York,” Gosa said. “They have given us a plan that will last a lifetime and it will benefit all of us. What a vision!”