Topekans explore Greenville plan

Michelle Boltz / Washburn Review

Annually, the Topeka Chamber of Commerce sends a group of about 50 people to communities around the United States that are similar to Topeka in population size, economic and industry for ideas to revitalize our Downtown area. Washburn law student Angel Romero, along with Zach Snethen, were two people that went to Greenville, NC on September 15-17, 2011 to see how the Greenville community had revitalized their downtown area, and brought back some ideas on how we as a community could do the same.

Greenville is well known for their biking community, and hosts the U.S. Cycling Tournaments every year.

“Greenville is committed to keeping the community healthy, and have separate bike trails, similar to Shunga,” said Snethen. “We’re really proud of the work people in Greenville have done, they have a genuine passion for creating a great community around us. It would go a long way for progressive development in Topeka.”

Greenville has been in the process of revitalizing their downtown area for the past 20-30 years. Their anchor is a ballpark and bridge, giving it an urban look to their downtown, which has been done within the past 10 years.

When in Greenville, members of Go Topeka met with individuals from their Young Professional Internship program, and had a great opportunity to see what they have done for Greenville. Residents have made a conscious effort to make contact with creative and innovative jobs, resulting to schooling, and people were determined to stay in Greenville and raise their families there.

 Although Greenville is similar sized to Topeka, two colleges, Clemson and Bob Jones University, surround them. Greenville also has a technical college. Greenville has a smaller populations size than Topeka, but their metro community is bigger, yet face similar challenges to ours.

Go Topeka, as well as Heartland Vision and the Capital City Project are currently transitioning with a design team to work with our community about what is unique about Topeka.

“It’s a dynamic process. It needs to involve the whole community to make something unique for everyone to enjoy,” said Snethen. “We need to take ownership and take pride in our community to really creating a community, not just a cool downtown.”

“We encourage students to keep up to date in our community for ways to get involved,” said Romero.

“The best involvement is to be involved in activities and patronizing local-area businesses. Washburn students are just as much a part of the Topeka community,” said Snethen.

To follow along on upcoming progress of the downtown revitalization plan, and to find out how to get involved, feel free to visit www.capitaldistrictproject.com, or www.topekachamber.org.