Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath, Glasgow Daily Times editor

Kudos to local resident and businessman Wes Simpson for bringing forward a well-conceived plan for developing an empty downtown Glasgow lot into a park.

Whether or not you agree with his idea, you have to admit, the proposal is feasible and the logic behind the project is reasoned.

Features like splash pads, a permanent structure for a farmers market and an outdoor amphitheater are proven ways to attract more people to an area, and it's a strategy that's been followed by several cities that sought to revitalize their downtowns.

Glasgow needs more revenue, and it needs to make some changes. The 1980s aren't coming back, and we must adjust to the times. But that doesn't mean we have to forget our past. The historic charm of our downtown can be utilized to our advantage with some upgrades. Creating a destination such as a downtown park with some amenities that would attract families is one way to shore up businesses in the oldest area of the city.

Part of the reason I like Simpson's proposal relates to the reasoning some offer who are opposed to it. That area of our city is poor. There are some rundown properties and houses nearby. There are some unsavory elements not too far away.

But we're a small town, so guess what? Anywhere you build a park will be close to an area where there's drug use. Why? Because too many of our residents are using drugs. Can we do anything about it? There isn't a silver bullet, but maybe if we give people something positive to do, such as enjoy a nice day at the park, fewer people will turn to drugs.

Also, what better way to spruce up an economically-challenged area than to add a nice green space with some new park equipment? Think of all the kids who live in that area who would be able to walk to the park if the plan comes to fruition.

Whenever an idea involving quality-of-life is proposed, there will naturally be some who label such spending as excessive. Others will point to needs they feel aren't being addressed.

What's good about this idea is that, according to Simpson, there would be private funding raised to help with the expenses. We also must invest in these kinds of projects if we want people to move to Glasgow. Even if you don't like out-of-towners, you should support improving your city if you want existing residents to remain here.

There are definitely other needs in this city. We need to address homelessness. We need more drug treatment programs. Our law enforcement agencies could use more help.

But we also need more attractions in our city. It's about the big picture. We need people living here — paying property taxes, spending money with our businesses and enrolling their children in our school systems — if we're going to have a sustainable future.

People don't move to cities because the local government saved its money for a rainy day. When I moved here, I didn't ask anyone how many police officers were on the job.

Existing residents don't decide to stay in a city because they're building a new homeless shelter. We don't turn down jobs and opportunities in other places because we don't want to pay $15 extra on property taxes at the end of the year.

More and more, especially among those millennials who are so often judged, people choose where they will reside based on the attractions that place offers. Glasgow has a lot to offer, but some seem afraid of realizing our potential.

Think about it. We could be an enticing location to industries, businesses and new residents. We are a short drive to Nashville, Bowling Green and Louisville. We have top-notch public schools. Our crime rate, specifically our violent crime rate, is low compared to other parts of the country.

But we have to offer more than a few restaurants and a once-a-year Scottish festival.

And when people and businesses choose Glasgow and Barren County, some of the other problems take care of themselves. We suddenly have more money to hire another police officer. There are more tax funds available to assist with a homeless shelter, which is a great need for our community. People start making more money when businesses come to town that pay an actual livable wage, and residents can then better afford utility bills.

We could have a chain reaction, but the dominos have to start falling somewhere. We have no assurances that building a park will lead to anything more than having a new facility, but even at that, it would be a great investment for our residents. Hopefully the Glasgow Parks and Recreation Committee will give this idea serious consideration.

Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. His column appears in the Thursday edition, and at various times throughout the week. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at dsuddeath@glasgowdailytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.