City takes a step forward

Our View

The Tuscaloosa Forward plan approved by the city council Tuesday provides a good framework for rebuilding the areas devastated by the April 27 tornado. The entire city will benefit from the revitalization of impacted neighborhoods, and as residents of this city, our student body has an especially important role to play in the rebuilding effort.

The plan includes the creation of village centers that will bring energy and life to pockets of the community that have previously been neglected. This will allow for more pedestrian-friendly, sustainable development. Mixed-income housing developments will surround the village centers, allowing families of different incomes to live in close proximity to one another. No longer will lower-income citizens be relegated to certain neighborhoods or public housing communities.

Furthermore, the plan covers every impacted neighborhood, offering the promise of renewed vibrancy in many of the low-income communities that were decimated by the tornado. If executed correctly, these efforts could create more opportunities for more citizens, creating a more prosperous city for all.

The plan also promotes connectivity between neighborhoods, allowing people to walk or cycle to their destination rather than rely on automobiles. In an age of rising gas prices and heightened environmental concerns, having a less automobile-dependent infrastructure will position Tuscaloosa well for growth in the future.

Finally, residents were engaged in the development of the plan, which was put together based on their input and suggestions. We are very fortunate to live in a city that puts such an emphasis on public input, and as college students, we have a responsibility to make sure our voices are heard throughout the reconstruction process. We live in and depend on Tuscaloosa, too, and the developments that are about to begin will shape the city landscape for generations of students after us.

We commend Mayor Walt Maddox and the Tuscaloosa City Council for their vision and for the outstanding outreach effort they have led. While every element of the plan may not ultimately be realized, it provides a great foundation to guide long-term recovery efforts. If the city strives to meet the goals it has set, we are confident Tuscaloosa will emerge much stronger than it was before the tornado hit.