Report on East Wooster Street doesn’t pull any punches

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green took a jab to the gut last week in the release of a study on the East Wooster Street entrance to the community. The “strategy for redevelopment,” conducted by Development Strategies of St. Louis, pulled no punches as it pointed out where the city has gone wrong, and where it needs to change course to avoid a downward spiral. The university and historic downtown are definite draws for the community, the study stated. But East Wooster Street – the front porch of the community – is littered with “haphazard development and poor quality buildings.” The study concluded that it’s not enough that the city has made minor changes to the zoning code, and that BGSU has purchased of some lots and demolished of some eyesores on East Wooster Street. To compete with other communities, especially other university towns, the city and BGSU need to take some control to promote healthy development along East Wooster. Mayor Dick Edwards discussed the “painful truth” of the study last week with City Council. “Bowling Green has a major image problem that needs to be fixed,” Edwards said of the report. “The condition of the city is placing the university at a competitive disadvantage in attracting students.” It’s not just student enrollment that is at risk, according to the study. Both BGSU and Wood County Hospital have reported difficulty attracting talent because the community appears to lack “quality of life” characteristics. The report has an “unmistakable sense of urgency,” Edwards said. “The simple truth is that we as a community cannot afford the economic losses associated with declining enrollments,” the mayor said. Following are some conclusions and recommendations from the study: First impressions really count Bowling Green is a far more impressive community than its first impression indicates. It has two major assets that many communities would be envious of: a public university and a charming, historic downtown. Even so, the main corridor that welcomes visitors to the city and connects these destinations gives a negative impression that is hard to overcome. The investments BGSU has made in the Stroh Center and Falcon Health Center set a new standard for quality; however, both public and private investment will be needed to infuse the 1.8-mile corridor with vitality. Behind in economic development trends The national economy is changing, but Bowling Green has not adapted its approach to…

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