In an exercise of determining what K Park really means to Wellington's future, we considered all the likely potential uses to which the property could put. We then considered whether each of the considered uses could just as easily or, perhaps, even more appropriately, be located on an alternate site within Wellington.
After going through this exercise (and we invite you to do the same), one reason why we settled on a Town Center or Main Street concept for K Park is our firm belief that there is only one use for K Park that would likely not find an alternate home in Wellington - and that's the Town Center concept. There is simply no place in Wellington other than K Park that is central enough and with enough available land to pull off a successful Town Center for the community. If we don't provide for a Town Center at K Park, the opportunity will be foreclosed to us for the foreseeable future. There is no good alternate space. Whether that's a bad or inconsequential thing is up to each of us as individuals to decide, but from this perspective, we see it as a huge lost opportunity for a better Wellington.
Why does this matter? It matters for many good reasons:
- Wellington presently lacks what most superior communities have - an identifiable, central gathering place for its citizens - a figurative Main Street, with all the traditionally good things that Main Streets do for a community. They are a source of civic pride, a source of community identity, and create a sense of place. They provide a place for people to socialize in the presence of activities they enjoy. And, as the National Main Street Center (part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) notes, Main Streets serve as critical factors in business retention and recruitment; they help to keep profits in town; they create stronger ties to the community; they enhance and protect property values in surrounding neighborhoods; and they offer an excellent civic forum for the people of the community to socialize and interact.
- A Town Center or Main Street creates a visual identity for a community. It serves as a place that embodies what the community is about, what's important to it, and further serves as a constant reminder of what it wants to be in the future. Whether it's about quality green space, recreation, culture or even architecture, the Town Center helps to further and strengthen a community's identity.
- A Town Center or Main Street can help to create diversity and uniqueness for a community in contrast to a world where sameness, blandness and suburban sprawl pervade. Special communities have one thing in common. They are unique and they foster uniqueness in their restaurants, specialty shops, parks and services. They are the types of places, that when people visit, they gain an immediate appreciation for an environment that they don't encounter everywhere else.
We have before us NOW an opportunity to take important steps to make Wellington into that special place. Let's not later regret this opportunity as an opportunity lost.