You are needed for 2030

Published 12:29 pm Friday, September 18, 2009

Between now and next October, many of us will be busy anticipating what Bainbridge will be like in the year 2030. That is if you have any plans to be here.

The effort is part of the update of the city’s comprehensive plan. It’s one of those state mandates that you can’t usher under the sewer system.

Three draft versions prepared by the consulting firm of Robert and Company are now available at city hall, or you can look it up on-line at the city’s Web site, www.bainbridgecity.com.

Take a look at it.

It’s easy reading as consultant reports go.

Think about and consider some of the suggested projections.

For example, population is projected to go from about 12,000 to about 16,000 by 2030. The population will be aging, it is predicted, with more than 45 percent of residents considered close to or part of the senior category.

If that comes about, look for a need for a variety of health care facilities, senior centers and other related facilities catering to senior citizens. Special needs housing will be priority.

Also, along with senior citizen population dominance, naturally, planners say this area of Georgia will be extremely attractive to retirees.

First, I would want our main goal toward 2030 to become the safest city in the country. Little if any crime, no armed robberies, no home invasions, no carrying guns in the streets, or concealed weapons, no gang rivalries and after midnight activities, no drugs.

The report says our fair city today, for its size, has crime rates above the FBI national average. We’ve got to work on that—bigtime.

I am glad to see the city increasing its police force with additional manpower using the government’s stimulus funds.

Perhaps our 20-year-plan should consider more consolidation of city and county services.

Do we need a city police and a county police department, for example? Would one department serve the entire county. Could we at least consider a Decatur County Office of Public Safety, a skilled highly trained cadre of officers dedicated to kicking crime in the butt.

Well, they asked for public input.

According to the consultant’s report, here are some action items need to be resolved within the next 20 years.

 Develop income opportunities for our young graduates to remain in the city.

 Get the kids to stay in school all the way to graduation. Percentage of student dropouts is too high.

 Solve the poverty problem, because one in four of our people in Bainbridge live below the poverty line, earning less than $10,000 per year.

 They also live in substandard housing, a lot of it too near industrial areas.

 With an elderly population, there will be less population in the work force, projected to be less than 20,000 by 2030. Work force today is about 15,000. Instead, economic engine will be pushed along with increased incomes from retirees.

 Efforts should be made to fill in the vacant areas around the downtown with housing and parks, and efforts should be made to stimulate business in the downtown area, and preserve its historic character.

 With the vacancy of several school buildings, these buildings can be utilized for public facilities such as museums, senior centers, gathering places.

 With the growth in seasonal farm industries, there will be a need for temporary housing for migrant workers.

Consultants see minimal population growth into 2030. They considered the population growth from numbers from 1980 to present, which saw only about 2,000 newcomers.

For the comprehensive plan to be complete, public input is vital.

The city will schedule several meetings this fall.

Plan to attend.

Get involved.

Particularly young people. It’s going to be your town. Tell the older folks how you want it to survive by 2030.