Path to Fraser’s future must be clearly marked
December 10, 2007
Development issues seem to have percolated to the surface lately in the town of Fraser, particularly with respect to some highly visible projects. In one instance, the town itself might even become involved as a developer.
The downtown revitalization project known as FroDo has been some seven years in planning. In its current manifestation, it would entail development of the 1.5 acres in the center of town bordered by Zerex and Doc Susie streets and Fraser and Eastom avenues.
Plans call for ground-level retail space with offices and residences above.
The theory is that with large-scale neighborhoods such as Rendezvous and Cornerstone taking shape outside the town core, FroDo would be a way to attract businesses and residents to downtown, thereby preventing other developments from sapping the downtown’s vitality.
It’s a sound enough notion, though as it is, “downtown” Fraser is a somewhat nebulous term. All due respect to Gertrude Stein, there is not much “there there.”
All the more reason, then, for officials to waste no time ensuring that the town’s core receives the attention needed to prevent it from becoming little more than a corridor for the highway to pass through. Clearly, the town board would serve Fraser’s best interests by giving downtown a healthy leg-up before more far-flung developments relegate the town’s core to obscurity.
To the extent that FroDo serves this end, more power to the town board for pursuing this initiative. However, a word of caution is in order.
As the town immerses itself in a large-scale development project, when it comes to all things development-related, it will be more important than ever that the town remain above reproach. Alas, that is not the case at the moment.
For example, Grand Park President Clark Lipscomb is sufficiently frustrated with the town’s development process ” or lack thereof ” that he felt compelled to broach the subject with the town board recently. As the developer of some of the larger projects under the town’s auspices ” notably Cozens Meadows ” Grand Park’s concern must carry considerable weight.
As Lipscomb pointed out, this highly visible project started in 2004. Yet, he still doesn’t have approval for a water system from the town, and he said his staff is having trouble obtaining it because the town’s rules keep changing.
Absent more specific information, it is not clear who is failing to communicate with whom. It is clear enough, though, that Fraser’s interests are not being served by this project languishing in regulatory limbo and giving the appearance that the town is in a permanent state of excavation.
The only sure way to guide the town’s future is through a development process that is clearly articulated and consistent with the town’s master plan.
Whether a developer is someone who buys a couple of lots to build spec houses or it is Grand Park, the regulations and expectations should be coherent and uniform. The same rules must apply to everyone and remain constant, unless they are changed through public due process.
As the town strides boldly into the future with FroDo, one of the steps it takes along the way must be making sure that everyone else who has a vision for building part of Fraser’s future has a clearly marked path to follow.