Effective urban planning takes into account not only the present urban setting, but plans to create a viable cityscape for generations to come.
Kokomo, Indiana has done just that.
The once dingy, uninviting downtown Kokomo had a kind of industrial, grimy feel for years.
But now, the walkable, bicycle friendly downtown is attracting new out of town residents, adding to a permanent tax base, all due to the foresight and planning of the Goodnight administration and the cooperation of local government.
Downtown has an almost European feel, as painted alleyways sometimes surprise the visitor with art displays and unimpeded traverses, free from trash cans and unsightly dumpsters.
The largest fare-free transit system in the state makes getting around town even more inviting, with trolley style busses providing hop on, hop off service, which also transport bicycles.
Motorized traffic has been tamed with the removal of stoplights, the city opting for stop signs for more genial traffic control and affording a less tense and improved line-of sight friendliness for drivers and bipedal/handicapped movement.
The “City of Firsts” as Kokomo has long called itself, has redesigned traditionally one way streets into two way streets and created bicycle lanes from the retrofitting. This allows for expanded bicycle connectivity to more destinations than its former road configuration allowed.
Making use of former rail right of ways in the heart of the city itself, the city’s Industrial Trail has a cross type configuration, following rail beds. These bicycle pathways take cyclists by Kokomo’s new, award winning collegiate baseball park, the city’s public pavilion, high school and college gyms and the county’s largest middle school.
Future plans are to connect these urban bike trails to nearby cities in the north, west, and south. The planned extension to the north will allow cycling from Kokomo to Peru, and as far as Rochester, Indiana on the Nickel Plate Trail.
All this makes for a city which its forebears would envy, and new restaurants and coffee shops and retail outlets show the confidence that entrepreneurs have in a growing urban population.
City proposals for new housing for the burgeoning over 60 population and subsidized housing will help insure population growth, and establish sustainable tax and customer base for downtown.
These and other innovations have invited private investments from builders and developers also adding to the city’s tax and consumer base.
The Hoosier Rails to Trails Council applauds the administration of Mayor Greg Goodnight for its sustainable urban planning foresight.