Our View: A chance to enhance

Posted: June 15, 2013

For years, corridor enhancement — or how to gussy up Winchester’s gateways to make them more attractive — has been on City Council’s radar screen, and even on its agenda. But attention to ambiance has not always yielded results.

Take the jumbled S-curve entrance at National Avenue/Piccadilly Street, for example. The situation at Blind Corners speaks to the potential as well as to the vexing nature of corridor enhancement.

On the one hand, potential envisioned and partially realized: the Timbrook Public Safety Building rising in the footprint of the old Woolen Mill, Timbrook Park, the Old Stone church, the Daniel Morgan statue. And on the other, rapidly aging structures packed along the western side of the S-curve and, of course, the two right-angle turns themselves that loom labyrinthine to unsuspecting visitors.

This situation, by all accounts, is about to change, and far to the better — the result of strategic planning (or “strategery” in polita-speak) melding keenly with what one city official calls a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

The confluence could not have been sharper, or at least no less sharp than those right-angle turns. No sooner had the city’s Strategic Plan been set in place than opportunity beckoned this past winter. Many of those woebegone properties along the curve were in foreclosure, on the selling block — and vacant. The city, particularly its economic development arm, leaped into the mix, its eyes on 11 parcels.

Mere months later, contracts have been secured, bond money written into the Fiscal Year 2014 budget has been identified as seed for such purchases, and plans are being developed to transform improvements made piecemeal into an integrated whole.

Not until 2015, at the earliest, will the city dedicate dollars to actual road improvements, but, in time, vision will be restored at Blind Corners, and attractiveness will reign.

Granted, some procedural I’s await dotting and a few legal T’s still need to be crossed as to the acquisition of all 11 properties, but this worthy project seems well on its way. Bravo!