Anthropologists and planners are continuously studying why certain places hold special meaning to people. Conclusions suggest this special meaning is created by locations that have a strong identity, a “sense of place” and character that is felt by residents and visitors alike.
For many, Springfield’s renovated downtown area has this special feel. But, what about the city’s new Transit Center? Most residents and visitors currently see the center as nothing more than a brief stop on the way to another destination. Yet, the possibility exists for the center, and the surrounding area, to become a vibrant corridor. In other cities across America, development around transit has become a reality, and the same can happen here.
The time is now for Springfield to realize the opportunity that exists in its backyard. The city can accomplish this by working to transform its Transit Center into an active, engaging area that connects individuals and neighborhoods by offering access to products, services and green spaces. Rather than simply serving as a place to transfer busses, the site has the potential to become part of a true ‘destination’ where individuals can meet friends for coffee, grab groceries or take time out to relax and unwind.
This type of “placemaking” is possible, but it must be viewed as a priority in our city’s future transit development plans. To help put the placemaking process in motion, the Missouri Public Transit Association is teaming up with City Utilities to host a community workshop on Monday, August 7. Led by livability expert Nidhi Gulati, Program Manager for Emerald Network at Livable Streets Alliance in Boston, the workshop will provide local stakeholders and MPTA Annual Luncheon attendees with the opportunity to begin the discussion about development around the new Transfer Center. Whether you are a resident, elected official, planner or anyone interested in development around transit, this is a must-attend workshop. Advanced registration is required.
Together, we can begin looking beyond the trip from point A to point B, and start creating a vision for transit development in Springfield that will transform our neighborhoods and connect our community.
Kimberly Cella is the Executive Director of the Missouri Public Transit Association. Kelly Turner is the Director of Transit for City Utilities of Springfield and the Secretary/Treasurer of the Missouri Public Transit Association Board.