Officials in Johnson City conducted a survey last year to learn what residents think is good and bad about the city. While the number of responses was lower than they had hoped for (only 26.1 percent of city residents who received one of 1,200 mailed surveys bothered to return it), municipal leaders say most of the comments were favorable.
Johnson City received high marks for being a good place to live. It was faulted, however, by respondents when it comes to the availability of paths/walking trails, ease of bicycle travel and ease of walking. Street repair, amount of public parking and traffic signal timing also received low grades.
City leaders were particularly interested in hearing g what residents have to say about the downtown area. As Press staff writer Gary B. Gray reported last month, 77 percent of those who responded to the city survey rated daytime downtown safety “good” or “excellent.” Another 65 percent rated safety at night “poor” or “fair.” That last rating is far below the benchmark standard for both day and night.
City leaders have long argued that the downtown area gets a bad rap when it comes to safety issues. Law enforcement officials say the downtown has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Even so, some residents say panhandling in the downtown has been a turnoff for new businesses and people who might want to shop there. Others say a stepped up police presence in t the area would help boost the confidence of people and businesses in the district and discourage panhandlers. And there are people who think more trendy and regionally known eateries like Tupelo Honey is the key to succe ss. They say these so-called “destination restaurant s” are what is needed to turn downtown Johnson City around.
What do you think would do the most to help in the redevelopment of downtown Johnson City? Would greater police presence downtown do more to attract people to the area, or do you think a greater diversity of businesses is the key to getting folks to go downtown? Could a nationally known boutique shop or destination restaurant be the savior of downtown Johnson City? Should police step up efforts to prevent panhandling downtown?
Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or firstname.lastname@example.orgâ€‰ . Include your name, phone number and address for verification. We will print responses in the coming weeks.