It wasn’t so long ago that it seemed the best thing that could happen in Cave City would be for it to dissolve. Years of political fisticuffs had led to disfunctional government.
City council meetings dominated by verbal outbursts of council members with wild-eyed accusations about corruption and pandering had led to some citizens deciding it best to pack up and move elsewhere. Or, to ask behind closed doors what would be the process for the city to be absorbed by Barren County, much like Hiseville had done years before.
Luckily, after a protracted court battle to determine who the mayor should be and an election that brought fresh faces and fresh ideas to city government, Cave City is acting like a different place. Because of the change in attitude, it won’t be long before it begins to look like a different place.
There are hints of business development and some positive trends happening at what for us is the gateway to Mammoth Cave National Park. For many years, I have often considered that Cave City should be able to rake in money because of its location along Interstate 65. It takes little more than an hour to get from there to Louisville. (An hour and 18 minutes, according to google.com/maps.) It takes only a few minutes more to head south and reach Nashville. (An hour and 23 minutes, again, according to google.com/maps.) Absorb that thought for a moment. For a person who would like to tour this area of our fine nation and they want a central location to park themselves, Cave City is the place.
But, the problem has been economic progress. There were not many places to stay the night. (That situation has improved.) There were not many places to grab a bite to eat. (That situation still needs to improve.) Finally, the exit from the interstate into town has not been appealing. (The new overpass on Ky. 90 will help, but Cave City officials really should take some time and examine what people who exit the interstate see when they enter Cave City.)
It is obvious by recent discussions and developments, city officials are thinking of the future and their town’s strategic location.
“You’ve got to have a plan. You need to have it if you’re going to progress,” Mayor Dwayne Hatcher told Daily Times reporter Gina Kinslow after last week’s city council meeting.
Hatcher and others had just heard from Bobbie Bryant and Tad Long with Kentucky League of Cities about the benefits of the city developing a long-range strategic plan.
“It’s not because people don’t have great things going on in the community. It’s because there are a lot of great things going on in the community, and so a strategic plan just kind of prioritizes that, brings all of that together and gives you a rough format going forward,” Long explained to city officials during the meeting.
A strategic plan also provides an opportunity to generate new ideas, new approaches, new perspectives and an overall new way of looking at things, he said.
Long laid out some success stories from around the state and explained the focus, dedication and commitment it will take from city leaders in order to improve and promote the city.
The best thing about how this group of city leaders has gone about developing a strategic plan for their city is that they have been attempting to engage the citizens in the discussion. Long further suggested to really get citizen involvement, the mayor and council members would have to knock on doors, much like if they were campaigning for office.
That last part struck me. It was something I had never really thought of before. Building a coalition of people who are interested in improving their city is just like building a grass-roots political movement.
I hope Mr. Hatcher and his council members take that advice to heart. I also hope they are effective at getting the citizens of Cave City excited about the potential of their community. It is a great location and could have a bright future. They’ve come a long way in changing the attitude and should be congratulated.
James Brown is editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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