Tom Blount: Get off your duffs, participate!

May. 05, 2013 @ 04:51 AM

Folks who say there’s nothing to do in High Point or claim no one asks for or listens to their ideas have opportunities galore to change that! At least five initiatives currently underway not only want but actually seek and may use your ideas:
• The City Project meetings for input to a master plan and “urban design services” for Uptowne, downtown/High Point Market district and High Point University area.
• High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau/High Point Partners’ study to determine what is necessary for the community to become a year-round destination.
• SoSi (arts district) — redeveloping the S. Main Street corridor between Taylor and Vail avenues.
• Southwest Renewal Foundation — revitalization of the 2-mile-square area bounded by English Road, S. Main Street and W. Market Drive.
• Rich Fork Reserve, where an exploratory group has been cleaning up in and around the 1890s Queen Anne-style Hedgecock farmhouse and the farm site that includes as many as 13 outbuildings and sheds.
Concentrate today on Rich Fork Preserve, one of Guilford County’s 14 nature preserves that total 1,700 acres. A group of volunteers — the county’s Open Space Committee and representatives from throughout the High Point community, Guilford County, HPU, High Point Public Library, High Point Historical Society, High Point Museum and UNC-Greensboro and others, with Dot Kearns as chairwoman, are exploring use options. By month’s end, the seven-parcel property should be completed. Open space is “land in a predominantly undeveloped condition, including forests, wetlands, stream corridors, managed meadows and agricultural areas.”
Benefits: water quality protection, flood damage reduction, air quality improvement, preservation of plant and animal habitats, low-impact recreational opportunities, visual and noise buffers and connecting people with nature.
Recognize that this is preservation — maintaining it in its existing condition, minimizing rate of change, slowing further deterioration and/or preventing damage, not restoration that “involves actions taken to modify existing material and structure … in order to return it to its known earlier condition, e.g. as new, or original.”
The latter was done at Old Economy Village, historic settlement (1824) in Ambridge, Pa., last of three communities established by the Harmony Society in the U.S. [in (1804-14) Harmony, Pa., and (1814-24) New Harmony, Ind.]  The society was founded/led by Johann Georg Rapp (1757-1847). Emigrating from Germany, Rapp began the movement with 400 followers who placed all of their goods in common. The society gained worldwide recognition for its religious devotion and economic prosperity and lasted roughly 100 years before, with few members remaining, dissolving.
The 6-acre site, now administered Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, contains 17 restored historic structures and garden built between 1824 and 1830. The buildings, grounds, library, archives and 16,000 original artifacts were visited for decades by fifth-graders from schools throughout Beaver County. They studied the society’s success — in construction of textile mills powered and heated by steam, all types of shops from tanners and hatters to potters and tinsmiths, and perfecting the technology of silk manufacturing to railroads and oil production.
By preserving the Hedgecock farm and its buildings, creating walking trails, perhaps even having tobacco and other crops grown, orchards planted and other similar endeavors undertaken, the Rich Fork Preserve group hopes to provide a variety of lessons not only for schoolchildren but as a “laboratory” for college and university students and their instructors and the general public.
Rich Fork Preserve is roughly 150 acres of open space in the middle of an urban area almost surrounded by late 20th century and early 21st century development.
Participate in the charrettes — intensive planning sessions where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development — that are being or will be held for each of the aforementioned initiatives. Then, stay involved! Stake your claim!

Tom Blount retired as editor of The High Point Enterprise in 2012.