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Your Opinion: Success linked to self-reliance

Your Opinion: Success linked to self-reliance

February 4th, 2012 by Gary Gampher, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

I am writing to support Transform Jefferson City based upon similar experience. While born in Jefferson City, I have been fortunate to work and live in other states and overseas before returning home for career and family. These opportunities have taken me to densely urban cultures as well as remote locations without roads, utilities, health care, sanitation, education, telecommunications, furniture, or newspapers for inhabitants. Always, successful communities were self-reliant. Transform Jefferson City is a means toward self-reliance.

In June 2010, a busload of interested Jefferson City residents was invited to participate in a community exchange to Topeka, Kan. Citizens there proudly displayed their economic plans for our neighboring state's capital city. They shared research, including the results of grassroots efforts in Oklahoma City in the early 1990's, whereby concerned residents proposed projects to voters as means to revitalize the city core.

Ironically, I was a young architect at the time, living in Oklahoma City and working on the team assigned to assist with this revitalization plan which became known as M.A.P.S (Metropolitan Area Projects.) The plan included new construction of a library, minor league baseball stadium, riverwalk park, sports arena, and downtown lake as well as renovation and expansion of the performing arts center, convention center, and fairgrounds facilities.

These were envisioned as catalysts for future development, and the plan was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1994. Upon sunset of the tax, the projects were completed and debt free. Subsequent resulting benefits from the citizen-led initiative include private development, tourism, conventions, hotels, restaurants, recreation, sporting events, revitalization, retail, housing, and young talent/family attraction. Although the scale of Oklahoma City is larger, the premise of Transform Jefferson City is the same: citizens defining and targeting their own community improvements.

I also lived in Oklahoma City in 1995 when the Murrah Federal Building was tragically bombed. The devastation was loud and horrific. The coincidental timing of our planning efforts helped with healing by both rebuilding and improving the city. I witnessed incredibly positive results of a citizen-led effort. While trained to design buildings for human activity, I've seen the ability of citizens to improve their community by developing and implementing a plan.

Passage of Transform Jefferson City will positively impact our community for generations. I ask people to review the hard work of many residents to date and vote yes to Transform Jefferson City.