David DeWitt, The Athens NEWS (December 18, 2011)
"In 1978, the city of Athens [Ohio] adopted a plan outlining revitalization guidelines meant to maintain the historical integrity of the buildings uptown and encourage restoration.
"It's been known as the 'Zarney plan,' named after the principle citizen who put it together, Kim Zarney. Now, City Planner Paul Logue is working on an update.
" 'I've been working with an intern, Jia Li - a recent (Ohio University) grad in urban planning - to update this plan,' he said Friday. 'Jia spent a great deal of time stitching together photos of the buildings in the downtown district as they look now and then we will compare them as they exist now to how they looked in the Zarney plan images and also compare what's been done to what was recommended in that plan.'..."
The idea, apparently, is to have at least part of downtown Athens, Ohio, look something like the way it did a century ago: and still be practical as an early-21st-century downtown street.
It's not just nostalgia, though. The Zarney plan seems to have acknowledged that folks are going to have to live in - and look at - the 'restored' area:
"...'Every effort should be made to preserve the inherently lively and varied forms present within this block,' the plan states about the area between Union Street and Carpenter Street...."
"...the goal of the committee was to increase public awareness and appreciation of the architectural history of the uptown area. And that's what the goal of updating the plan is as well...."
The Lemming remembers the days when folks were getting fed up with Modern developments. Maybe you've seen pictures of them: lots of concrete, lots of glass, vast stretches of not much of anything. Some of those buildings might have looked better if someone had decided to leave the scaffolding in place. And that's another topic.
Back to Athens, Ohio.
The Zarney plan's restoration program was supposed to focus on architectural design of buildings.
"...'The majority of the buildings in (uptown) Athens were built around the turn-of-the-century,' he [Community Design, Incorporated, chair John M. Jones] wrote in April 1978. 'The theme for our improvement design calls for restoring these buildings back to their original architectural design.'
"He wrote that the goal of the committee was to increase public awareness and appreciation of the architectural history of the uptown area. And that's what the goal of updating the plan is as well...."
Sounds like a good idea. Most folks probably won't become sophisticated connoisseurs of early-20th-century architecture. But the Lemming figures that most folks can tell the difference between 'lets make a fast buck' buildings and well-designed ones. And would rather live in a place that doesn't seem intended to bore the senses.
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