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Editor's Notes: A vision of the future

“If we pull this off,” Ashland Mayor John Stromberg began, “people will say, ‘thank goodness they did this.’”

It wasn’t in his prepared text for the State of the City talk he gave Tuesday to a packed house at the Ashland Community Center but, like several other off-the-cuff amendments to his remarks, it gave emphasis to the ambition of the vision he laid out.

In his 20-minute talk, the mayor laid out some solutions: concentrating high-density residential development in “nodes” along a public transit loop; encouraging “family friendly” houses in new developments; requiring mixed-use buildings (commercial on bottom, residential on top); install streets and sewers on the Croman Property, and possibly on Normal Avenue, so they will be developed; and link the entire town with frequent public transport.

“If we do this,” Stromberg said, “this is going to change the whole look and feel of this town.”

After laying out the points in his plan, he said, “There’s a trend that’s stitched through this implementation. We’re a town with a pronounced brand as a progressive community.”

That, he said, will facilitate support for the plan, whether through navigating regulatory thickets or, possibly, in obtaining grant funding for some elements.

What happens along those nodes would have the greatest impact on the look of the town: the building of multi-family dwellings (apartment buildings or condominiums), perhaps four stories high.

To implement the plan, Stromberg told the crowd, will take “awakening in the mind of stakeholders how this also benefits them.”

In closing, said, “Imagine flying in from the north. I see a city grown up with seven neighborhoods, each with its distinctive character, strung like beads on a necklace. And each with its own tower, draped with lights by the Chamber of Commerce each holiday season ... I see a downtown no longer dominated by cars, with visitors and locals mingling, strolling, congregating, shopping, dining and enjoying entertainment both indoors and al fresco, and the district’s hardworking employees and business owners going home to nearby condos and apartments ... I see quality of life continually being created and enjoyed.”

Let the discussion begin.

• • •

Changes are coming in Monday’s Tidings, both on the comics page. Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or for Worse” comic strip, which has been in reruns for quite some time, will be replaced by “Rhymes with Orange” by Hilary Price.

“Rhymes” has been described as vibrant, energetic, smart and quirky. We agree, and think our readers will too. I know the same words can be used to describe Ashlanders.

We’ll also start running a daily haiku. Here’s what Angela Decker wrote about haiku in the Quills & Queues column in Daily Tidings recently:

“Haiku is the Japanese poetry form made up of three lines with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line and five in the third. The poem presents one image, usually from everyday life and during a specific season. Part of the form's appeal is that it uses only a few words to capture a moment and create a picture in the reader's mind.”

With Angela’s help, we’ve come up with a number of haiku to prime the metrical pump, but we hope readers’ contributions will take over and provide an engaging change of pace for Tidings readers. It proved a popular feature at my prior paper, with readers submitting haiku on all kinds of topics.

We hope you’ll like both the changes. As always, we like to hear from you. Let us know.

Reach Daily Tidings editor Bert Etling at betling@dailytidings.com or 541-631-1313. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/betling.