Editorial: Downtown can thrive amid change
After several years of debate, the Concord City Council on Wednesday night approved a $10.69 million plan to renovate downtown.
While that vote won’t allay concerns or silence criticism, it should shift the focus from how downtown businesses will be hurt and residents inconvenienced to how the people of Concord and surrounding communities can make sure the heart of Main Street keeps beating while the transformation takes place.
Severino Trucking Inc. Construction will begin work in the fall, starting with utilities and improvements to Eagle Square. All told, nine blocks will be redesigned and rebuilt, stretching north from Concord Street to Centre Street.
The changes include widening sidewalks from 10 to 12 feet to 19 feet on North Main, new storefront access for 18 businesses and more than 70 trees, with lighting, lining the street. Four tight lanes will be exchanged for two wide ones, and pedestrian and bicyclist safety will be increased.
If all goes as planned, construction will be completed sometime in 2016.
From now until then, downtown Concord will undergo a change that, at times, will be painful for businesses and frustrating for residents and visitors; pain is often the price extracted by progress. But there has never been a better opportunity for Greater Concord to demonstrate the strength of its community.
Shop downtown. Eat at Main Street restaurants. Take the opportunity to witness first hand the transformation in all of its phases – even if you loved downtown just the way it was.
Nothing is more insane than to refuse to accept what is. Concord is about to change, and even the strongest critics of the project must realize that the time for disagreement has passed. Now is the time for unified dedication to helping downtown survive the upheaval so it can emerge stronger and more vibrant than ever.
Soon, the future will become the present and Concord will have a downtown to be proud of. In the meantime, how people handle the next two difficult years will say more about the community than will the finished product.