How does a community raise its general quality of life? That’s a complex question and the answers are equally complex.
The one clearcut answer is that there is room for involvement from a lot of sectors.
Some North Garner residents have become outspoken about the need for more attention to be paid to that part of town. Specifically, they would like a greater investment of public time and resources paid to the area north of Main Street.
There are clearly opportunities for the town to help make improvements to aging structures in the community. And the town has the infrastructure to do some of those things through the Neighborhood Improvement Program, through its police department, through the Downtown Development Association and through actions of the planning board and the town council.
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And, to be fair to those public entities, work has been underway and no one should expect a complete turnaround of any community overnight. It does take a long-term commitment to improve the quality of life in a neighborhood.
There is also a role for the business sector. Business owners and their landlords can insist that their properties are in good shape and present a pleasant appearance year-round. That may mean structural improvements. It may mean a coat of paint. It may mean something as simple as a few new plantings to give the property a welcoming air. The expense of those kinds of improvements can be recouped through rental fees and increased foot traffic within the business itself that comes when a visit to the business is a more pleasurable experience.
There is also a role for residential property owners. Aside from making sure their own properties are kept looking nice and that the grass is mown on a regular basis, neighbors must encourage each other to follow suit. Council member Kathy Behringer, who lives in North Garner, made a cogent point in a news story about this issue last week when she pointed out that residents during a previous improvement effort went to other property owners and told them in no uncertain terms that they needed to improve the appearance of their properties.
That’s not always a pleasant conversation, of course, and we would counsel encouragement before insistence, but the fact remains that if property owners see their neighbors doing their part to make the community look nicer, there is some innate pressure that is placed on recalcitrant property owners to follow suit.
In short, making North Garner a more pleasant, inviting place, will require a team effort. It will require money. It will require cajoling and it will require a long commitment by all involved to improve the area and keep it that way.
Town leaders can spark the process by bringing stakeholders together and gauging their level of commitment to the idea of self-improvement.