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AUS unveils new look for Linden

LINDEN – The City of Linden had a celebration of its future on Tuesday at a town hall meeting called to review the findings of the Auburn Urban Studio (AUS).

Citizens gathered at the courthouse for barbecue and all kinds of goodies before going inside for the meeting. AUS then presented its report, detailing proposed changes in the town’s structure to improve its look as well as its outlook.

“We had an extraordinary turnout,” said Linden mayor Mitzi Gates. “(AUS director) Cheryl Morgan and Laura McAlister made the presentation, which consisted of the architectural renderings of their vision for Linden’s downtown revitalization plan.”

Gates said that, in about six weeks, the City of Linden would receive 5,000 maps called shurette maps, which will show the ideas provided by AUS as to the future look for Linden.

“It’s a really big poster map,” she said. “It is such a perfect tool to add to grant applications and that kind of thing to show what we’re trying to accomplish. It will show Main Street, what their suggestion is for that, and it will show Linden as a whole, kind of a bird’s-eye view of what the town will look like. It will show things in concentric circles, with the first one being within a five-minute walk, 10 minutes and so on, trying to get people to understand the connectivity of streets and sidewalks.”

Gates said that AUS came up with a suggestion as to put a future Linden City Hall.

“They are suggesting that a new city hall be built close to or on the same lot where the gazebo currently is,” she said, “and that city hall would face the courthouse. There is a lot of unused space there, and we didn’t see that. It took fresh eyes to come in and look at the layout of downtown and see that there really is a lot of empty, unused space there. They are proposing a kind of greenway between the new city hall and the courthouse.

“One of the most exciting parts about the revitalization plan to me is that they picked up on the importance of our former courthouse that burned in the ’60s, I think. It was a beautiful structure, and it had a Gothic-looking clock tower. They are proposing to have a free-standing clock tower somewhere close to city hall that is reminiscent of that clock tower that we loved in this town.”

A community center and library was also proposed, but Gates said those changes were off in the future, as the library is moving to a new location soon.

“Their vision was not to take anything away from what is currently being done,” she said. “It was just an idea, like, ‘We have an alternative school in the old post office right now, but wouldn’t that be a good place for a community center that would be centrally located?’”

City administrator Cheryl Hall said the work done by Auburn Urban Studio will help develop Linden as a site for tourism and as a place for people to come to live.

“We’re looking at tourism and the revenue from tourism as well as keeping people at home,” she said.